Trim the Tummy

With bathing suit season here I know I’m not the only one that wants to look half decent in my bathing suit. Yes I eat healthy and I run.  I hit the gym and cross train plus I throw in the occasional yoga class.  This helps my overall health and fitness and you have to lay the ground work.  

I found a way that works for me to focus on my abs every day.  I spend 15 minutes before bed on my ab routine.  I vary the exercises and sets but still ensure I work the top and lower abdominal muscles plus my obliques.  Since 15 minutes isn’t a huge commitment, I’ve been able to maintain consistency and 15 minutes of non-cardio exercises doesn’t get you sweaty so it really can be the last thing you do before bed.

An example workout would be:  

2 x 25 traditional crunches, 2 x 25 twists (with or without a medicine ball), 2 x 25 leg raises, and 3 x 25 second hold planks.

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Frequency over Duration

I have to admit it’s been difficult keeping up with a steady post schedule. My son has entered school age and between homework, his sports schedule and my own training and race schedule I am utterly exhausted after lunches are packed and we’re ready for the next day!!! And I know I’m not alone in the daily battle to keep up and there are plenty of parents doing the same as me with more than one child.

Where you will see the difference is between those moms and dads who keep up with daily life demands and still manage to get a workout or a run in on top of everything on a regular basis. It’s hard enough to make sure you’re eating right, avoiding the drive through but to spend hours at the gym? That’s a big commitment.

What’s the trick? The answer is it depends on you and what your goals are.

I know a mom with four kids who gets up really early to hit the gym and is home by the time the kids are up. I have a friend who runs after work and goes to a weekly cross fit class. There is another ‘soccer mom’ I know that gets her running in just on Saturday mornings. You have to find something that works for you and your schedule but doesn’t hurt your family time.

So the easiest way that works for me is I have a ‘Frequency over Duration’ mantra. I can’t always go for a long Sunday morning run but if I have 15 minutes I run or ride my bike for 15 minutes. If my son is at practice I can sneak in some interval training. I can do my abs for a few minutes before I get into bed if I didn’t get to the gym that day.

Don’t ever thing that a few extra minutes isn’t enough time because a few extra minutes every day can make a big difference at the end of the week. And what would those 15 minutes add up to at the end of the month? The end of next month?

Does anyone else do this? How to you maximize your exercise time?

Keep it simple

I went to a boot camp exercise class this past weekend with a friend of mine and it made me reminisce of the classes that I used to teach while I was employed as a personal trainer. The instructor was very good. He used a circuit approach and the exercises were pretty basic, but you could vary your effort based on your level of fitness and comfort with the particular exercise so it was really for all types of people. Most of the exercises were done individually but a small few were done with a partner which kept it motivating.

This class reminded me of how simple it is to exercise and get in shape! Please don’t confuse simple with easy though because they really are different concepts. The exercises didn’t require and equipment other than your own body, although you could add weights if you wanted the extra boost. The group class was great and certainly helps those of us who need a little extra help in holding ourselves accountable or those who prefer the camaraderie. However, all of these exercises you could do at home your own motivation and a little bit of space so you don’t hit anything.

The exercises are timed and you did each more for one full minute (pacing yourself!) and you rested a minute before you went on to the next one. This gets your heart rate up just a little and works your large muscle groups. I would suggest you alternate between upper and lower body moves so you can finish the workout…alternatively you could do all the same body area if you are a glutton for punishment.

Simple ideas include: lunges, planks, sit ups, push ups, 6 inches, bicycles, jump squats, jumping jacks

I’m sure you can think of more…

Happy Training!

It’s all about abs

I think if you surveyed people on which body part they want to get in shape the most, it would be their abdomen. It makes sense. It’s usually the first part of us that starts to show our age and/or our lack of attention to our bodies and for some of us it’s stretched during pregnancy. For some of us it was never really flat after the 8th grade. But it’s also one of the most important parts of our whole self and why we need to take better care of it.

Our abdominal muscle group not only provides support for our body’s general movements and posture but they assist in our breathing and protect our vital organs. Pool muscle condition in this area leads to a wealth of health problems with the most common being chronic low back pain.

So, to those of you who are slaving away on the ab machines at the gym or curled up on the floor doing crunches – keep doing what your doing becuase it’s doing wonders for your overall health and not just for bikini season. But if you wanted to try something differnt and more challenging, try the plyo ball (aka exercise ball or body ball).

Spending just 10 minutes or so working with the body ball will engage more parts of your abdominal muscle group than the ab machine or crunches alone. The reason for this is because these exercises incorporate stabilization and balance into the mix. You have to maintain your balance and keep steady while still performing the crunch on the ball, so you get an added benefit from both sides of the crunch – on the way up and the way back down. The machines and regular crunches hold you in a particular position without forcing you to balance because the floor or the chair is doing that for you.

In addition, the plyo ball is cheap – about $10 at Wal-Mart. You can get then at any sporting goods store too and they come with their own little pump. They’re not an overwhelming size either so they can fit in either a closet or corner of a room…just make sure they don’t collect dust there 🙂 Many gyms have them as well. I recommend making sure you have sneakers on when you’re working with the ball…I tried it in socks once and I slipped.

If your ready to throw something different into your ab routine then try this:
1-lie on the ball with the arch of your back supported, keep your feet flat on the floor, & cross your arms behind your head
2-curl your upper body squeezing your abdominals and lifting your shoulders and upper back
3-return to your starting position
4-do 3 to 5 sets of these with anywhere from 10-20 reps in each set (this will depend on your ability-do what feels comfortable)
5-when you have that part down then add a little twist when you are at the top of your crunch to work more of your obliques.

Happy Training!