Chris Hayes wrote about his least favorite exercise recently and I thought I’d talk a little bit more about mine.
My least favorite exercise is anything involving a core workout. Ironically, improving my core is the single thing that I’ve ever done that had the most dramatic improvement on performance. Yep, no doubt about it, “core workouts” are as good as advertised.
For me, I need discipline, routine, someone else to keep me accountable to do a core workout. My husband on the other hand can simply hold himself accountable to do his core workout after a ride. We own multiple core workout tools such as the grid, the Ball (not sure of its official name), and of course, there is a lot you can do without anything all to get a good core workout.
Benefits of a core workout:
- Increase balance
- Increase stamina
- Increase speed
- Injury prevention
What I find odd is that you actually have to do something specific for the core. Swimming, running and cycling don’t engage the core enough to really give you the benefits above.
In my effort to try to figure out a way to keep me accountable with these type of exercises I looked into a few different methods. I belong to a gym, I could go to a class. I like ballet and there seems to be this new “Ballet Fitness” movement inspired by the Dark Swan. I looked into that but the classes I found don’t fit my schedule. I did, however, find an online ballet fitness class, called Ballet Beautiful. I’m considering it as an option. I’m not great at Yoga but I found a class in town that offers both Yoga for Athletes and a Yoga Core class. My next step is to attend one of these classes. The great thing about this class is that this place lets you simply drop-in for class, which makes me more likely to make this leap (less pressure to commit).
Also, I found some good Yoga for Core exercises on FitSugar
My husband does a short core workout everyday. My core workouts are usually an hour but only a couple times a week. I wondered if that made a difference or which method was better so I asked my Step Dad, a personal trainer and seasoned athlete, Larry Krutka his professional take on the matter. Here is the answer he gave me:
If you are not doing any core workout, you will notice benefits from as little as two 15 minute sessions per week. If you want to improve your core because you have back issues, be careful. Many core strengthening exercises involve twisting which could aggravate your back problems. If you have a back issue it would be best to start with core exercises that are static and do not involve twisting. Some examples are:
1. The Plank: Your forearms and toes on the floor with you body in a rigid plank. Start with a few 10 – 15 seconds hold and work up to a minute.
2. Side Plank: One arm and both feet on the floor (one in front of the other) and hold rigid plank the same as above. Switch sides and repeat. Increase difficulty by lift one leg. Hold for 5 -10 seconds and build up to a minute.
3. V-Situps: Lay on your back and bring legs and upper body off the floor reaching for your legs somewhere between your knees and ankles. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat. If you have back pain you can modify by leaving your back on the floor and lift only your legs and arms.
4. The Crunch: Lay on back with feet under knees. Lift upper body and legs simultaneously leaving low back in contact with floor. If hand are behind head, be careful not to pull on head which could strain neck muscles. It may be safer to cross arms and grab shirt on opposite side at each shoulder. Repeat until form decreases.
The following are excellent core strengthening exercise, but should be used cautiously by individuals that have low back pain.
4. Push ups: Hand slightly outside of shoulders lower rigid plank closer to the floor. Beginners should only lower themselves a few inches and increase range as they become stronger. The goal is to progress until chest is within 4 inches of the floor on each repetition.
5. The Bridge: Lay on back with feet under knees. Lift hips until knees, hips in shoulders are in a straight line. Hold for 15 – 30 seconds and repeat. The advanced version would include balancing on one leg while the other is extended straight. Hold for as long as you can keep good form and lower yourself and repeat with the other leg.
Many of the above exercise can add a twist, but make sure your back is stable enough to handle any twist to your core exercises. The routine above can be performed in less than 15 minutes and will produce considerable increase in core strength.
Anyone else have any core exercises they can share? I guess now that I wrote this, I can’t really put my core workout off anymore.
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