Do More When You Work Your Core

When most people think of their core they think of their abs, but it takes a lot to achieve a shredded six pack!

Your core is divided into 3 systems, the local stabilization, global stabilization, and movement system. Try to picture them from the inside out… Local, Global, Movement. It is important to create a core foundation from the inside out in order to make progress. For example, if your Movement System is strong but your Local System is weak then your body will sense the muscle imbalance and won’t be able to transfer forces correctly. A clear visual of this would be excessive spinal extension during an overhead press… your core should not look like a question mark during the exercise!

Core Anatomy

The Local Stabilization System is made of muscles that attach directly to the vertebrae and are made of type 1 (slow twitch) muscle fibers. They help provide support from vertebrae to vertebrae.

The Global Stabilization System are muscles that attach from the pelvis to the spine. They transfer loads from the upper to lower extremities, provide stability, stabilization, and eccentric control of the core.

The Movement System includes muscles that attach to the spine and/or pelvis to the extremities. The muscles in this system provide concentric force production and eccentric deceleration.

Core Training

When training your core, include the entire muscle action spectrum. Focus on force production (concentric), force reduction (eccentric), and dynamic stabilization (isometric). The goal of core training is to create neural adaptations instead of strength gains. Using a variety of tools such as stability balls, BOSU balls, exercise bands, and balance equipment are excellent ways to create a multisensory training environment. As with any exercise, focus on your form rather than the reps or weights your using. Quality over quantity!

There are 3 levels of core training; stabilization, strength, and power.

Core-Stabilization Training Examples:

  • Bridges
  • Supermans or (Cobra for you Yogi’s out there)
  • Planks

Core Strength Training Examples:

  • Stability Ball Crunch
  • Back Extensions
  • Reverse Crunch
  • Cable Rotations

Core Power Training Examples:

  • Rotating Chest Pass
  • Medicine Ball Pull Over Throw (on stability ball)
  • Front Medicine Ball Oblique Throw
  • Soccer Throw

If any of your core muscles are weak, it can result in lower back pain or a bulging belly (the question mark example). Keeping your core muscles strong is great for your posture, and can help give you more strength to complete other exercises.

Cardi-NO: Guidelines for Cardio Training

Fight or FITTE? 

FITTE stands for frequency, intensity, type, time, and enjoyment and it is an easy peasy way to figure out exactly where to begin with cardio training.

Frequency is the number of training sessions in a given period of time. For general health, cardio should be done everyday in small quantities. If you want to improve your fitness levels cardio should be done 3-5 times a week at a higher intensity.

Intensity is the level of demand placed on the body. It can be measured by calculating your heart rate, output, Vo2Max, or Vo2R… If you’re like me and hate math, stick with a basic heart rate measurement.

Time is the length in minutes of each training session. The general guidelines for adults are 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate intensity cardio per week OR 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous intensity cardio per week.

Type is the mode or specific exercise. The exercise should be rhythmic, use large muscle groups, and be continuous. This could be running, jogging, walking, swimming, cycling, or using any form of cardio equipment.

Enjoyment is how much fun you are having! Because at the end of the day, if you’re miserable then whets the point? Exercise adherence drops like crazy if you’re not interested in what you’re doing, so find something fun and challenging that you enjoy!

When it comes to cardio don’t fight it, FITTE it!

Once you get comfortable with your routine you will need to progress your training. Your body will adapt to the level of stress placed on it and will require a change in routine to produce a higher level of adaptation in the future. I hate to break it to you but you can’t wake up and run a marathon tomorrow. You have to progress systematically to prevent injury and overtraining.

Stage 1 is where many begin. You will start slow and work your way up to 30-60 minutes of exercise. When you can do this 2-3 times per week then you are ready for stage 2.

Stage 2 focuses on altering the speed, incline, or level to increase the workload. Stage 2 is also the introduction to interval training, where speed and intensity is varied throughout the workout. This might look like 1minute of high intensity followed by 3 minutes of recovery. Work to rest ratios should continue to decrease in order to progress to stage 3. During stage 2, you should incorporate stage 1 type training on some days to allow proper recovery time and keep workouts balanced.

Stage 3 is also focused on altering the speed, incline, or level to increase workload as seen in stage 2. The main difference here, is that the intervals are shorter (30-60 seconds) and work to rest ratios continues to decrease, allowing for more high intensity and less rest.

As with any cardio training it is important to remember the warm up and cool down periods.

Warm ups can be general movements to get the blood flowing or specific movements that mirror the exercise you’re about to do. Warm ups should only take about 5-10 minutes. You want your heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature to increase, so your body is ready for training. This is also a great time to get psyched up about your workout! Start off by using self-myofascial release (foam rolling), followed by static stretching, and finally jumping on cardio of your choice (treadmill, bike, stair climber, rower, elliptical, etc.)

Cool downs are important too because they reduce your heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature, and return muscles to their previous state. Cooling down helps prevent pooling of blood in the lower body, which may cause dizziness or fainting. As with the warm up, cool downs should only take about 5-10 minutes. Finish up with 5-10 minutes at the end of your cardio of choice, followed by self-myofascial release, and static stretching.

At the end of the day, cardio is hard and being unhealthy is hard… choose your hard!


Iso, Tonic, Metric, Huh? Muscles in Action

There are three main types of muscle actions: isotonic (eccentric and concentric), isometric, and isokinetic.

Isotonic muscle action is constant muscle tension. Under this category you’ll find eccentric and concentric. Eccentric muscle action is when a muscle develops tension while lengthening. Force is produced, tension is developed, and movement occurs. Work is actually being done ON the muscle instead of the muscle doing the work. Eccentric motions move in the same direction as the resistance, it is like deceleration. During exercise this looks like landing a jump, or lowering the weight during resistance training. Eccentric motions are also known as “the negative”. Concentric muscle action is when the contractile force is greater than the resistive force, therefore shortening the muscle. This is like acceleration in the sense that the muscle is doing the work by producing the force.

Isometric muscle action is when the contractile force is equal to the resistive force, and shows no change in muscle length. You can see isometric motion when you pause (or hold) during resistance training in between the lifting and lowering phases.

Isokinetic muscle action is when the muscle shortens at a constant speed over the full range of motion. Tension in the muscle is at its maximum throughout the whole range of motion. This can improve strength, endurance, and neuromuscular efficiency. Typically these types of movements are seen in rehab clinics because of the required training equipment.

If you want to take your training to the next level you have to do more than just “lift things up and put them down” try incorporating some of these movements into your current routine!

Why Hire a Personal Trainer? The Essential Eight

My goal as a personal trainer is to design safe and individualized programs for each person. I consider your goals, needs, and abilities to design a program that will get you there in a systematic way. I want to provide you support so that you are able to self-manage a healthy active lifestyle. My “Essential 8” reasons to invest in yourself and consult a personal trainer are:

  1. Safety. Hiring a trainer will help you learn the proper form and technique. A personal trainer can also assist, and correct you during your workouts.
  2. Individualized Programs. What works for others may not work for you. A personal trainer will provide you with a fitness program tailored specifically to your goals, needs, and abilities.
  3. Set Goals. Learn how to set goals and create a dialed in vision to achieve success!
  4. Needs. Do you need to lose weight? Do you want to build muscle? Do you need to rehab an injury? Working with a personal trainer can insure you stay on the right path.
  5. Abilities. Not sure where to begin? Being assessed by a personal trainer can get you started on your fitness journey by measuring your true abilities.
  6. Systematic Approach. Maximize your time in this crazy world by performing workouts designed for you to reach your goals quickly and efficiently.
  7. Support. A personal trainer is not there only to take care of the outside, but to also take care of the inside by offering emotional support, companionship, and information.
  8. Self-Management. Learn to manage your own energy, behaviors, thoughts, and emotions to change whatever is not working for you!