Workout of The Week 5.16.16: Core-geous

Feature Photo:
Model: Lindsay Blair
Photographer: Dylan Fox

Intro

The word “core” is a collective term used to describe the muscles of your midsection. They include, but are not limited to the rectus abdominis, internal/external obliques, transverse abdominal, quadratus lumborum, and spinal erectors. While these muscles have their own individual functions, they also work together in almost every movement you make.

I’m frequently asked which exercises you should be doing in order to get a great looking core. Unfortunately, my answer is not what you want to hear, because a sculpted core is not built in the gym, but in the kitchen through dieting (not crunches on the counter lol). In fact, athletes with some of the most aesthetically pleasing mid-sections you’ve ever seen, may not even directly work them. This common misconception derives from the belief of “spot-training”, or the act of burning fat in a particular area by simply training it. While there may be some metabolic improvements caused by increased muscle, it’s far too inefficient to be the sole path to a shredded 6-pack.

Before you completely write-off that 10 minute abdominal workout you do at the end of your workout, you should be aware that core work still has great value. Remember, the body is not designed to look good- its designed for function. These functions include stability, strength, balance, etc. Therefore, the better your core, the easier it is to maintain good form and prevent injury. Most say you should train legs because it’s your foundation, I would disagree, your core is.

 

Warm-up

  • Abdominal bracing- while lying on your back, contract your midsection. This does not mean suck them in, this means squeeze as they are. Hint: tighten your midsection as if someone were going to punch you there.
  • Warm-up sets: perform 1-2 easier sets of the exercise so that you can become more familiar with the form and movement.

Working Sets

 

Oblique Kayaks: 3 Sets x Perform reps as your fitness level allows; 60s rest

Set-up: You will need a weight bar and a decline bench. Sit normally on the bench, as you would for a sit-up.

Execution: Lean back until your hips are at a 90 degree angle, you should feel the tension of your core holding your body up at this point. Hold the bar with a shoulder-width grip, and your elbows tight to your sides. Using your core, and not your arms, twist your core to resemble paddling in a kayak. Remember, your core does all the movement, not your arms!

Tips: I typically do these until I have about 20% of my energy left, at that point I use the remaining energy to perform Russian twists until just before failure.

 

Decline Bench Reverse Crunch: 2 sets of 10-20 reps; superset with next exercise

Set-up: You will need a decline bench, much like you did with the first exercise. You will need to lay the opposite direction.Hold on to bench above your head to keep yourself from sliding down. I typically grab the leg pads. (see pic for set-up)

Execution: Begin by contracting your core and raising your legs; knees slightly bent. Then, using your core, bend your knees and bring them to your chest until you reach a tight contraction. Then, slowly extend your legs back out to the starting position without touching the ground; repeat.

Tips: To ensure you are working your core and not just your legs (which may burn), make sure you slightly roll your hips as you crunch. This movement should be subtle, but it should be done for a quality contraction.

decline reverse crunch.jpg
Reverse crunch. Notice hips

 

 

Exercise ball DB crunch: 3 sets of 15 reps; 60s rest

Set-up: You will need a dumbbell (usually 5-15lbs will suffice), and an exercise ball. Begin by sitting on the ball, then in a controlled fashion, roll your body down until you are on your back. I typically like to position the ball so that I feel I am holding my head and shoulders up. Your feet should be wider than shoulder width for a solid base. You should hold the dumbbell behind your head, but not touching. Keep your elbows flared outward.

Execution: Begin by bracing your core, and picking a spot on the ceiling to stair at (look at head position in example). I typically like to pick one about 10 feet in front of me. Now, perform a crunch. This is not a

ball crunch
DB held behind head (not shown)

sit-up, so your hips should remain still. All the movement should be made between your chest and your hips. After you have crunched up into a solid contraction, slowly control your way back down until just below the starting position.

 

Tips: The particular exercise is best described by looking at the example picture. Stay on top of the ball, keep elbows wide, and only crunch at the stomach.

Back Raises: 3 sets of 15 reps; 30s rest

Set-up: You will need a lumbar extension pad, and possibly a barbell plate. Adjust the pad height so that it rests just below the crease of your hips.

Execution: Begin by contracting your core. Drop your torso using your hips until just before your back rolls. This is important, as the movement should be solely in your hips. Then, keeping your core braced, use your lower back to raise up to a straight position. A common

back raises
Straight back, movement in hips

mistake is to hyper-extend (over raise), this is unnecessary and unhealthy-avoid it.

 

Tips: If using weight, hold the plate firmly against your chest with a crossed-arm grip. Remember, you should avoid excessive rolling of the back. This may take practice, and may be limited to the individuals flexibility range of motion.

 

 

 

Last note:

  • Core workouts are funny, because a particular exercise may work greatly for one person, and not at all for another. It all comes down to the person’s body and their balances or lack there of.
  • Also, if you are new to working out, don’t be alarmed if you feel a burn in your lower back. This is usually fatigue, and will improve as you continue with future workouts.
  • Core should be done at the end of a workout, you need them for stability, so it wouldn’t be wise to fatigue them first.
  • Core should also be done every other day. Doing them daily can lead to overworking, and that can cause issues.

 

 

PRAY

God gave you another day, and another healthy workout.

 

Kyle Blair, BS Exercise Physiology, CPT, SPT

 

 

 

 

Workout of The Week 2.15.16- Treasure Your Chest

WARM-UP

Cardiovascular machine- 5min

 

Arm circles- 4 sets of 15 seconds each way, alternating between small and large circles. (yes, just like in gym class).

Internal rotation- using thera-bands or a cable handle attachment, do 3×15 reps of internal rotation (see I-1)

(I-1)
                         (I-1)

Light warm up sets- Before starting your working sets, make sure to do 2-3  very light sets to familiarize the movement and bring blood to the chest.

Additional warm-up options- Push-ups, Front raises, light triceps extension.

WORKING SETS

Neutral grip dumbbell press: 4×8;120-180s

Set-up: You will need a flat bench and a pair of dumbbells. You’re naturally weaker with your hands turned in, so make sure you go a tad lighter than a normal dumbbell press.

Execution: Execute the lift much like a DB bench press, except turn the dumbbells so that your palm’s are facing each other. Press the dumbbells upward until they are 1-2inches apart, and your elbows are just short of lockout. Then, descend in a slow and controlled

Hammer-Grip-Decline-Bench-Press
 

Neutral grip dumbbell press

 

manner- repeat.

Tips: It helps some people to imagine this lift as a chest fly with bent elbows. Also, make sure to emphasize the squeeze of your chest at the peak- this is what makes this lift special.

Incline dumbbell fly: 3×12; 120s rest.

Set-up: You will need an incline bench and a pair off dumbbells. If you only have an adjustable bench, set it on the lowest incline setting possible.

Execution: Start with the dumbbells at the tops of motion, not out at your sides (notice direction of arrows in picture). Begin by opening your arms in a controlled fashion until you reach a deep

incline chest fly
 

incline DB fly (notice arm bend)

 

stretch of your chest. Your arms should be slightly bent as if you were hugging a wide tree. Then, bring your arms back together until you reach a solid contraction- repeat.

Tips: It’s common for people to go too heavy with this exercise. If you notice the muscle action feel primarily coming the shoulders, or your arm’s excessively bending, the weight is probably too heavy.

Smith machine incline press: 3×12; super-set, no rest.

Set-up: You will need an adjustable bench. Set it fairly steep. Now, the hard part, adjust the bench so the bar will evenly lower to the top 3rd of your chest. It may take a couple re-adjustments. Your hand grip should be slightly narrower than a normal bench press, since it has been shown to recruit more muscle fibers for the upper chest.

Execution: Start by unlocking the bar and lowering it to your chest. Make sure you

incline smith press
 

Incline Smith Press (go steeper)

 

exaggerate the stretch in your pecs as you lower. Once the bar touches your chest, or gets 1-2 inches away ( for this less flexible), press it back up until just before lockout- repeat.

Tips: I mentioned that the bench should be steep. By this, I mean 1-2 clicks steeper than your average incline angle. I typically use this exercise as a go-to for my upper chest-shoulder tie-in.

Decline cable crossover: 3×12- 120s rest.

Set-up: You will need two cable pulleys. Set them at the highest adjustment. Grab each handle, and step forward with one leg. Your body should be slightly leaned forward.

cablecrossover618__landscape.jpg
 

Decline cable crossover

 

Execution: Pull your arms inward until your forearms cross, and you feel a strong pectoral contraction. Then, return to the starting position. When you perform the following rep, alternate which arm crosses above/below. Repeat this pattern throughout the entire set.

Tips: This is a pump/squeeze exercise, not the type to load up the weight. Focus on clean, strong, contractions with good form. Try your best to target the squeeze in your lower chest.

Push-up drill: 1×20-100 reps; 10s rests as needed.

Set-up: You will need a stop-watch and perfect push-up handles. You don’t NEED the handles, but I prefer them for wrist health.

Execution: This is a burnout drill. Pick a number between 20 and 100. If you’re good at push-ups, pick a higher number. If you aren’t good at push-ups, pick a lower

woman perfect pushup
 

Modified perfect push-up

 

number. The goal is to complete the total number of push-ups you have selected with the fewest breaks possible. You will only get 10 seconds with each break, so don’t get comfortable.

Perfect-Pushup.jpg
Perfect pushup

Tips: Write down the number of rests it takes to finish, and try to beat it each time. When you finally complete the entire set with no rests- raise the number. Try not to go to failure during your first bout, this will burn you out too soon. Instead, stop 1-2 reps short, and conserve some energy.

 

This concludes the chest workout. This workout will be great to pair with a push day (chest, triceps, shoulders), or simply paired with any one of the push muscles. I also pair chest with biceps from time-to-time.

STRETCH

Do 2-3 reps of each stretch for 10-20 seconds. Focus on breathing to allow a deeper stretch range of motion.

Click to enlarge.

 

PRAY

God gave you another day, and another healthy workout.

Kyle Blair

Email: kblair_fitness@aol.com

For coaching.

 

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