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Tag Archives for " core strength "
4

The Most Effective Plank Exercises

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Often, people are reluctant to attempt a plank because they’ve heard that you have to hold a long-lever plank for 5 minutes in order to be “cool.” Not true. Planks are accessible to nearly everyone, as many versions exist.K planking in Thailand

Want to perform a #fitness plank? This video shows 4 different modifications, & instructions… Click To Tweet

Proper Technique:

  • Planks are more effective if you rest on your elbows, not your hands
  • Elbows directly below the shoulders
  • Hands loose and relaxed; a correlation exists between clenched fists and breath-holding
  • It’s better for your lower back to have your hips slightly piked rather than dropped, though a straight line is your goal
  • Pretend you are wearing a belt, and tighten all places where it would touch

One caveat: We mention holding for 30 seconds in the video, but research also indicates you can hold for as little as 20, take a short break, then get back into plank position. Whether you choose 20 or 30 second intervals, stick with the plank position that gives you the best form.

12

Planks: The No Crunch, No Head Lifting Abs Exercise

Planks are Great for Women Over 50

Alexandra planking at Lizard's Mouth

Who cares about rock hard abs when you can plank on rocks?

Have you heard you have to hold a long-lever plank for 5 minutes in order to be “cool” or to achieve results? Are you reluctant to attempt this classic ab exercise because that goal seems out of reach? Good news! As few as 20 seconds doing planks with good form will strengthen your core and work your abs. As well, you don’t need to crunch, flex your neck, or lift up your head. Check out the benefit of dropping down after 20 seconds and restarting in this post we wrote on short duration planking: Interval Planks Will Activate Your Abs

 

Ultimate Abs binder imagePlanks are accessible to nearly everyone, as many versions exist.  If you are a beginner planker, start on your knees. If you want a bit more challenge, but are not yet ready for a parallel plank on your toes, place your feet wide apart.  If you want a ton more ideas to improve your abs, then take advantage of the program we created specifically for baby boomers: The Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50.

What is Good Planking Form?

Planking in Australia

The Tourist Plank at the Sydney Opera House in Australia

Good question. Even better answer is to keep reading as we offer bullets below and a video demo. AAAAaaand, pop over to our post that has another video going over dos and don’ts.Planking in Australia

How to Do Planks: Beginner to Intermediate Video

If you’re considering adding planks to your fitness regimen, watch our video. You’ll see four different modifications, and instructions for good form.

 

 

As few as 20 seconds doing planks w/ good form will strengthen your core & work your abs Click To Tweet

 

Kymberly planks in Thailand

We admit – not for beginners or those afraid of heights. Thailand Tourist Plank

Hot Tips from Certified Fitness Instructors (Yeah, that would be us) on How to Get the Most Out of Your Planks

Proper Technique:

  • Rest on your elbows, not your hands, (unless you are taking photos of yourself in exotic places around the world)
  • Place your elbows directly below your shoulders
  • Keep your hands loose and relaxed; a correlation exists between clenched fists and breath-holding
  • Try to keep your body in a straight line from head to knees or toes. If you need to bend, it’s less stressful on your lower back to have your hips slightly piked (lifted) than dropped
  • Pull your navel towards your spine while keeping your spine long
  • Breathe, people, breathe!
Kymberly planks in Cambria rain

We’ll plank anywhere, anytime, in any weather. Photo credit: Alexandra Williams

One caveat: We mention holding for 30 seconds in the video, but research also indicates you can hold for as little as 20, take a short break, then get back into plank position. Whether you choose 20 or 30 second intervals, stick with the plank position that gives you the best form.

 

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Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

 

9

Intro to Planks

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Often, people are reluctant to attempt a plank because they’ve heard that you have to hold a long-lever plank for 5 minutes in order to be “cool.” Not true. Planks are accessible to nearly everyone, as many versions exist.

Perfect Form Plank - Oh Yeah!

Perfect Form Plank – Oh Yeah!

If you’re considering adding a plank to your fitness regimen, this video shows four different modifications, and instructions for good form.

Proper Technique:

  • Planks are more effective if you rest on your elbows, not your hands
  • Elbows directly below the shoulders
  • Hands loose and relaxed; a correlation exists between clenched fists and breath-holding
  • It’s better for your lower back to have your hips slightly piked rather than dropped, though a straight line is your goal
  • Pretend you are wearing a belt, and tighten all places where it would touch

One caveat: We mention holding for 30 seconds in the video, but research also indicates you can hold for as little as 20, take a short break, then get back into plank position. Whether you choose 20 or 30 second intervals, stick with the plank position that gives you the best form.

While we’re on the subject of good form, this is the second of two videos that Depend Silhouette Active Fit shot with me as one of the models.

For the video where I do some jumps (using the core strength I earned doing lots of plank intervals), read our recent post: Cross Your Legs; Don’t Sneeze: The Boomer’s Exercise Dilemma.

While we’re at it, you may also want to enter for a chance to win one of three sets of KettlePOP non-GMO, organic kettlecorn and sea salt popcorn.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

24

Reverse Curls: An Unusual Abs Exercise

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Ultimate Abs binder imageHow are your abs muscles different from other muscle groups? Did you know that your abs can do something your hamstring, biceps, pecs, quads – heck, any of the other muscles we hope you are tempted to train –can’t?

An example of this mystery property in action is the reverse ab curl, aka a great and safe core exercise.

Before getting to our video and the answer to this intriguing Abs question, take a look at our recently released program: “Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50” (over 23 videos, 10 modules, popular abs questions addressed). Check out the link if you want a stronger core and better abs.  Moving on now to reverse curls.

Sing Along: We Got the Abs Right Here, The Method’s Oh So Dear, And Here’s Some Ladies Gonna Make it Very Clear. Can Do, Can Do, We Both Know That You Can Do (this exercise).

picture of reverse abs curl

Hips Lift Toward the Ceiling

We’ll give you a hint. Then you can try the reverse curl exercise in our video that targets your lower fibers and strengthens your entire midsection. No neck flexion required. No crunches or planks involved. This is a fun and safe ab exercise.

Read This Hint

Kymberly: When you train your biceps, your hand moves towards your shoulder. But you don’t bring your shoulder to your hand, right?
When you target the hamstrings, for example, you contract the heel towards the buttocks. But you don’t bring your hiney to your heel.

Alexandra: Just wondering – what am I training if I ask a handsome guy to move his hand toward my shoulder?

Kymberly: Now picture a crunch and a reverse curl. In the former you lift your upper body in the direction of your lower body. With the reverse curl you … wait for it, wait for it .. you bring your lower body, or hips, towards your upper body.

Work in Both Directions

In other words, you can work the abs from the top down or the bottom up. Given the spine’s joint structure, you can train the abs in both directions. Double bonus, just like having twins answer your active aging questions!

In our 35 years each of teaching fitness on several continents, we know most people prefer to target the lower fibers when doing abs exercises. That means choosing exercises that contract, compress, or lift your hips towards your upper body – whether sitting or lying down. If that is your goal as well, then give this move a go. You’ll get so toned you’ll want to get out your white boots and fringe vest and go-go.

pic of reverse of abs curl done wrong

Don’t Swing Your Legs in a Reverse Abs Curl

Watch This Video to Work From the Bottom, Up and Become Tops!

Just to make sure you really understand how to do this move, we’ve shown both correct and incorrect form.

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9

Easy Abs Exercise with No Head or Neck Strain

If you’ve been looking for an abs move that will strengthen your core, but avoid neck strain, you’ve come to the right place.

In less than 90 seconds, you’ll learn an effective, yet simple abs move by watching this video.

The Diagonal Bug looks like its name and is great for the obliques and transversus. Similar to the exercise we shared for the rectus abdominis, this one is easy to do correctly while avoiding neck or head strain. Our colleague Shari Kalkstein, from whom we learned this move, is great at creating abdominal strengthening exercises that help you avoid forward spinal flexion.

Want an abs exercise to strengthen your core that avoids neck strain & has no head lifting? Click To Tweet

By the way, if you are watching the video from a chair, while eating a junk food snack, get thee onto a mat and do this exercise along with us.Not with a fox. Wait, I want to be a fox.

Not in your chair.
Not on a dare.
Not with a snack.
Not hurting your back.
You should now try it here or there.
You should now try it anywhere.
You would not like poor, weak abs.
You would not like that muffin flab.

Looking for more exercises to strengthen your abs that are chosen specifically for YOU, the over 50 woman? Take advantage of our combined 70 years’ experience as certified fitness professionals to transform your core and more. You can move from weak and (dare we say, perhaps “flabby”) to strong and Fab-Abby! How? Take a look at our our newly created “Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50” program.

Photo credit: Oblique – Owen.Hyatt

Head over (with no neck strain) to our YouTube channel to see short videos that will improve your fitness with maximal impact yet minimal joint issues!

Sign up to start "youthifying" today.

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

16

Planks: Beginning to Intermediate

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Perfect Form Plank - Oh Yeah!

Planks to strengthen all ab muscles–who can help but love this move that offers so much for the entire core?! Wild hares couldn’t drag Alexandra from having a wild hair to show you more about planks. You get 4 options in this short video, progressing from beginner to intermediate level.

For more plank exercises, read our previous fitness plank post.

Stick with these options so you can say your Plank Don’t Stank!

What is your opinion of planks, and what is your favorite version? Remember that the BEST version is the one you can do with excellent form.

23

“Rotating Abs” Exercise = Stronger Core

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit: I tried the core assessment move in your post, ‘Do You Really Have Core Strength?‘ and flopped like a fish. Now that I’m confirmed as a fish with a weak core, do you have a post or video as to what I do next to strengthen my abs? Give up and eat mud pie?  Nora, Atlanta, GA

For you, Nora and all our interested readers, we offer another exercise in our series of effective ab workouts. This one shows the wrong and right way to perform a rotating core move.
After you try this (and watching the video while muttering, “unh hunh, I can do that exercise correctly” doesn’t count as trying), you might still have enough energy to work your way through our series of ab exercises. These ab workouts will definitely have you rotating, flexing and possibly whimpering! Dare we slam down a pun and suggest that this move will prevent you becoming an alba–core!).

Let us know – were you able to do this rotating core move without propping up on your elbow or shoulder? What bad habits do you have when it comes to core workouts?

Photo credit: photostock / freedigitalphotos.net

23

Do Pilates and Yoga Improve Strength? Free offer for right answer!

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit: Hi. Are Pilates and yoga considered strength training? Or do I need to do some free weights? Thank you for your time. Dee, USA

Yoga is more than breathing

Who me? Nothing. Just hanging around!

Kymberly: The short answer is that both yoga and Pilates DO improve strength and are fantastic activities. And both are low resistance workouts. Depending on your fitness or health goals, you may also want to add some heavier resistance training to your weekly workouts. Think: free weights, machines, elastic tubing, medicine balls, kettlebells, barbells, teen progeny who hold still when you hug and squeeze them. Lots of choices!

Alexandra: I just went over to Gaiam TV to see what kind of yoga and Pilates videos they have for strength training and I got 3 pages of titles just for the “beginner” category. I think my mouse-clicking finger just got stronger! That was surprising – not that my finger has superhuman strength, but that there were so many “alternative” strength DVDs – because in our Yoga For Flexibility and Weight Loss post we talk about yoga’s more relaxing aspects. In this Ab Strengthening post, we talk about some of the benefits of Pilates (and share some great ab moves).

Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman has Wonderful Biceps!

And my sister gave you the short answer above, so I’ll give you the strong answer. If you only enjoy yoga and Pilates, do them, knowing it will take you longer to show your Wonder Woman toned up muscles. But if you also enjoy free weights, add them to your workout. The combination of activities will be your quickest path to Dee-lightful, Blissful muscles. I shall now go practice my “I got into the Pretzel and can’t get out” move. It’s sort of like the saying for New Orleans (I’ve fallen down and can’t get up), except the Pretzel doesn’t involve drinking. Or cartilage as far as I can tell!

K: Huh? Were you talking? I was working out to Gaiam TV videos that had the words “powerhouse,” “pumping,” “squeeze stronger,” and “Budokon” in them. Apparently I will be invincible!! after I try Budokon. Heck, I’ll be smarter just figuring out what that means. Here’s to being strong and invincible!

A: Activate!

Dear Readers: What are your favorite yoga or Pilates moves for gaining muscle definition and strength?

Also, we want to let you know that Gaiam TV is offering a 10 Day Free Trial, which means you’ll get free access to over 2000 healthy living streaming videos. Yup, free access for you all because that’s how we work the magic on your behalf! If you can’t watch them all in 10 days (you can’t), put a subscription on your wish list. Just sayin’.

Bonus tip: They have videos on everything from the environment, metaphysics, art & culture, science & technology, travel, fitness, documentaries, and dinosaurs to food & nutrition, TV shows, family and even (can you believe it?) yoga and Pilates! We’re off to check out the self-help because if we don’t help ourselves, who will?

Photo credits: Creative Commons: andertoons, Gaiam TV

Disclosure: Gaiam TV compensated us for the links in this post. All opinions and suggestions are our own.

17

Do You Really Have Core Strength?

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Blue Hair, Nice Skirt, Strong Abs - He's got it all

Yes, he's weird. Nice abs though!

Kymberly: If you can do 100 crunches, have super abs, or can hold a hover for 3 minutes, does this mean you are core-some and awesome?  For many, a strong core is defined by flaunting a 6-pack (yes, you heard envy in my tone. Sure, I have a 6-pack… under my 12 pack).  How can you know whether a certain look or ability translates into true inner strength?

Alexandra: Wherever your belt touches, that is your core, which means abs and back working together to keep you strong, braced and upright!  Include your entire torso, and you have a good idea of what the “core” defines, besides just “fab-abs.”  Many of our students believe they are very strong in their core, sometimes because they have well-developed chests and shoulders. But…..does the ability to bench press your mama really mean you have a strong core? Maybe it just means you have a big chest and a small mama!

Let’s find out:

K: Did you try the move? Tougher than it looks, right? This exercise really tests whether you initiate movement from the center of your body or depend on your extremities to get you places. (For those of you who like high techy terms, you want to start movement proximally, then have it translate distally, not the other way around). To use a crunch as an example, if you start the move by lifting your head, cranking on your neck, or throwing your arms to get going, you are depending on the ends or extremities of your body to get some action in the core. Such action means you are working from the outside, in. If you can set up your body in a good crunch position and first engage the midsection, which then moves the shoulders and head off the ground, you are working from the inside, out. Movement stars at the center of the body and radiates out to the hands, feet, and head.

A: All I know is that I radiate from all my insides and outsides!. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go roll around on a mat somewhere. Quietly, by myself. In a darkened room with no mirrors or cameras.

Core-licious readers: Do YOU have core strength? What’s your favorite core move?

Photo credits: Creative Commons