Our quick video tutorial gives you helpful specifics on how to perform oblique (side) abdominal crunches correctly. And as a bonus, we also show how NOT to do them.
Good news – you don’t have to learn technical terms. But just in case you’re wondering why we say “obliques” instead of “waist” or “that area that encircles your spine that used to be oh-so-tiny way back in high school,” we’ve got some quick Ed-U-Cay-Shun-al info about the technical terms.
Your external obliques run diagonally, forming a V in front. Imagine you’re putting your hands into a vest or front coat pocket. Feel those rock hard muscles? Yeah, me neither. But I do know that my obliques are there somewhere.
Your internal obliques run at right angles to your external obliques and form an inverted V. Put your hands on your hips with your thumbs in front and fingers behind, pointing down as if putting your hands into back pockets.
For those of you who like the nitty-gritty, oblique-y details, here’s an excellent definition by our colleague Dr. Len Kravitz, who teaches at the University of New Mexico and is way smart!
Now you know the official terms for “I want my waist to be fit and trim, but don’t want to copy any of those lame exercises I see people do in the gym that are destined to hurt their back or neck.” More importantly, you can now confidently add oblique crunches to your exercise routine. Score!!
Not yet a subscriber? Sign up by entering your email (to the right in the sidebar ———–> and you’ll receive our handy-dandy posts two times per week. Which is probably how often you do ab workouts, am I right?
Photo credits: CreativeCommons. org
by Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Kymberly: Dear Gina: As you are doin’ the Tighten Up in Texas, keep in mind this pithy and wise quote I made up myself: “Keep the mind clear and the body confused.” Always know what, why, and how you are performing your resistance exercises. That’s keeping the mind clear.
And change up those resistance training exercises every so often. That’s where the body confusion comes in. Be careful not to mix up the two and wonder what the heck you are doing and why, but gosh, you sure have done it for a long time. That’s akin to saying “gee the food was bad, but at least they had big portions!”
Anyway, we are really talking adaptation and progression here, not muscle memory. You want muscle memory, which allows you to achieve good form and coordination. And you want to constantly push yourself to progress. Once you adapt to a move, it’s time to vary the exercise in one of many ways.
Alexandra: I want some muscle memory. I want to remember what, why and where my muscles are! I had them just a minute ago. I think they got lost behind my Buns of Cinna! Geez, at this point I have a Samwise and pithy quote that I made up, and it’s better than Kymberly’s. It is this “Frodo, Frodo, it’s me – Sam. You have Muscle Alzheimer’s.” I too want to adapt and progress, but I call it something different. I call it “I let my boys make it through their teen years by reminding myself it would soon be over, and I would again find harmony and joy in their company.” Adapt? Yup. Progress? They’re alive aren’t they? So some days I lift my car keys and purse 15 times as I contemplate running away for 3 years. Other days I lift my car just once, and contemplate hurling it, and myself, over a cliff. Light weights one day, heavy the next.
K: Ummm, so where were we? Basically, adaptation can occur anytime between 1 and 12 weeks– for each new move. Unless you are Alexandra, then it’s a lifelong process. For you, Ginaroo, I would change up about 20-30 percent of my workout every few weeks. Don’t completely throw out one routine for another all at once. Morph your routine with one, two, or three new approaches each week without getting caught up in exact formulas. If you no longer see or feel progress with a given exercise, change something about it. If you feel stale with a move, throw out the old Cinnabuns. Couldn’t resist.
As for what element to change, that is the fabulosity (made up that word too and proud of it!) of resistance training. You can select to change any number of elements to keep your body adapting upwards and program fresh:
So many ways to vary: the exercise itself, the equipment, the speed, the balance factor, the resistance factor, the range of motion, the order of your routine. Get happy and choose what appeals to you.
A: Forget your troubles, come on get happy, gonna chase all your weight away. Said Hallelujah, come on get happy, get ready for the push-ups day! What appeals to me has nothing to do with working out. It involves curly dark hair and manly t-shirt smell. Really, I just go to the gym and work out so I can sniff the hotties. Oh, and I’m paid.
K: And whoever said to change your routine to avoid muscle memory, needs to read our blog in a big way. You change your routine to avoid lack of progress from overadaptation. Force the body to adapt upwards. Just as I have had to adapt to having a twin who lifts car keys for a workout. As you can tell by the fine quality of my advice, I do all the heavy lifting for her.
You will then be so strong you will want to subscribe to our blog to get active aging answers twice a week. Subscribe now in the box above or to the right.
What do I mean by that? In truth, the question isn’t necessarily a plea for solutions (though we have many solutions; some are listed below and some are linked to in this post and through the pictures). Before giving some answers about substituting A (Inactivity) for B (Activity) in ways that don’t add time demands to your day, let’s take a look at some of the actual meanings behind the question:
I’m hoping you’ll tell me I’m okay, and that I don’t need to exercise.
Other people think I should exercise, but I don’t really agree, so I’m kicking this can down the road.
I actually hate to exercise, so please say you have an easy, “magic pill” solution that doesn’t involve sweating, exertion or a change of clothes.
And certainly, some want our expert input so they can make healthy changes to their routine.
Here’s how you can discern whether you’re truly invested in finding a solution – after reading our suggestions, see if you’ve implemented any of them over the next two weeks. If so, you truly wish to make some changes. If not, you may be more comfortable choosing guilt, procrastination or plain old avoidance. As a person who is the full-time caretaker for two people, I can definitely say that there are times when it’s truly impossible to get in some “me” exercise time. And… as a person who’s a full-time caretaker for two people, I can also say that being too busy for exercise every single day for weeks, months or years is a choice.
Recently I’ve posted quite a few pictures and scopes (videos on an app called Periscope – please follow me at @AlexandraFunFit), and gotten lots of comments about how I must be on a permanent vacation because I’m always out and about, walking around. No. I’m just finding a solution that works for me while I wait around for the people I drive. Walking and taking pictures and doing my scopes keeps me fit, not just physically, but also mentally. My stress level is under control for two reasons: 1 – I am outdoors walking, which means I am exercising AND getting the benefits of nature; and 2 – I made a conscious choice to do something that takes my mind off the many hours I am required to drive and wait and drive and wait and drive and wait. That choice gives me a feeling of control.
What tips would you add to the short list above?
P.S. Do you see the Ent holding up the tree and raising his arms and face to the sky in this picture? Look again.
by Alexandra Williams, MA (don’t forget to follow me on Periscope for my travel and fitness videos)
Our friend and colleague, Debbie is a personal trainer, group exercise instructor, fitness club director, running coach, and repeat dog rescuer, who blogs over at Coach Debbie Runs. She isn’t quite as tough as this post makes her sound. She has been working with a mature population for many years and understands how to lure exercise haters into a healthier lifestyle. She hopes you will check out her blog for inspiration, training programs, and tips on living a plant based, active lifestyle.
By Debbie Woodruff
I didn’t become a personal trainer for the huge amount of money I could make. Nor for the glory and fame that I could achieve. Nope, I became a personal trainer because I believe in health and fitness. Our lives are much better when we exercise.
Which is good because there hasn’t been a much fame, glory, or money involved. But I do know I’ve made a difference in a few lives, so that’s a pretty good trade-off.
However, I have grown pretty tired of hearing one comment, not just from clients, but from non-exercisers in general. Various people who come to the gym, friends of clients, even other bloggers will walk in, look disdainfully around at the equipment, the members sweating, the trainers training, and say, “I hate to exercise.”
As a trainer, I used to consider this a challenge. I envisioned working with these people, creating a program for them, finding something that they do enjoy, and they would become lifelong exercisers. Happy ending! Barring that, I could at least make them like me enough to enjoy the time we spent together training.
The problem with the former plan is that it rarely happens. Exercise haters stick to a program for a while, whine and complain a lot, begin to find excuses, then disappear from the face of the gym forever. Or at least until it is time for next year’s new year’s resolutions.
The latter solution isn’t perfect either. A large segment of the population can’t or won’t hire a personal trainer, so I’m missing a large part of the target audience. While I do have a few clients who train with me because they enjoy my company, they would rather chat than work out. And they are terrible at adhering to the other parts of an exercise program normally done on one’s own, like cardio, proper nutrition, and lifestyle changes.
I’m tired of sugarcoating exercise, of trying to make everyone happy, of spending my valuable time convincing exercise haters to enjoy doing something that will make them live longer, feel better, play stronger, and generally have a better life. So, to that end my new mantra is…
Whoever said that everything that you do in life had to be fun? We, all of us, do many things daily that we don’t really enjoy. Do you like brushing your teeth? Cleaning the litter box? Washing the dishes? Vacuuming? Do you do it? Yes, because not to do it would leave you in a very dirty place.
Even if you enjoy your job, you don’t always like it. But you do it because, you know, you need to eat. You clean your house, mow your lawn, help your kid with homework you may not understand yourself. Fun? Not really.
You do all of these things because you have to, need to, are compelled to, whatever. For the most part, you don’t do them because you like them. You may even hate them.
If you spend a half hour three days a week weight training, or some other form of strength building exercise, and take a little time for a walk most days of the week, you can receive benefits way beyond having a clean litter box. You can lower your cholesterol and blood pressure. You can reduce your risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, obesity, diabetes, and cancer. You can reduce the pain of many joint diseases, improve your posture and balance, and general overall health. You will feel better. You will look better.
All of this for only two or three hours a week. Many people spend that much time a night watching television.
So suck it up, buttercup. Just get out there and exercise. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like it. You need it. It’s important. There are many resources available if you are new to exercise and need a little help getting started. You can contact me if you have question, either in the comments below, here on Kymberly and Alexandra’s Fun and Fit blog. Or run over to my contact page.
Who knows. You might even begin to like working out. A little.
Readers: Is there an exercise mode you HATE? Which do you love (or at least tolerate?) We hope Debbie’s post has inspired you to get moving. You can start by subscribing to our site or by checking out Debbie’s. Toodle oo for now!
I know many people who love to practice yoga, as they find it to be a calming, centering activity that relaxes their mind AND body. I’m not one of those people. When I try to do yoga, my mind just wanders and I notice all the parts of my body that hurt. So yoga is definitely NOT relaxing for me.
For others, reading is a release and escape. For most of my life, I was the same, as I’ve loved to read ever since I was three. But now I just feel guilty if I read anything except professional research or nonfiction, as I have so many things I HAVE to read before I can pull out something I enjoy (or so my massive guilt hormone would have me believe).
Just as many people like to combine their foods, I like to combine my activities. That seems to quiet the guilt hormone beast that lurks somewhere behind my sweaty-mascara right eye. So I combine action with relaxation by walking. And baking. And taking pictures. But not of my baking because my photo skills aren’t yet good enough to make me feel warm and self-satisfied inside. Only a piece of homemade sourdough bread can do that.
Almost every day I walk. With the dog. Or alone. With my camera. Whether it’s a short 20-minute visit to our nearby meadow, or a 6-mile hike with a friend once a month, I always come back from my walks in a composed, steady state. I like ticking off the benefits:
* reduced stress
* completed most of my 10K daily steps
* created a happy dog
* focused mind
* shot some great (I have self-confidence) photos
* communed with nature (though I have strong opinions about bugs touching me)
* escaped (temporarily) the demands on me
* maintained my weight and fitness levels
What about you? Do you find it relaxing to combine activities? Are you able to appreciate yoga or meditation? Do you feel guilty about taking time to relax? And what do you do to relax? Do tell. I might add your idea to my list.
by Alexandra Williams, MA
Arrrrghhh! That’s the sound of you spending another day stuck in sedentary patterns stitched with good exercise intentions. Another day of you bartering with yourself in an Annie mood that “tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you tomorrow” the sun will come out and shine differently on your workout plans. But no actual exercise has occurred on a consistent (or even intermittent) basis. How many “tomorrows” have come and gone that you now admit, yup, you’re stuck and need a prod to get going. As in “today!”
Good news. We are here to prod. Cajole and bribe even! Did you attend our recent TransformAging webinar session, (Re)Starting Fitness After 50? Have you noticed the new freebie checklist we offer subscribers, 16 Easy Ways to Get Unstuck and More Fit? Then you’ll know that we are on a roll to address one of the most common requests we get: how to go from park to cruise mode; from inactive to active; from nuffink much to sumpin. Note I did not say to zoom from 0 to 60 off the starting line. In fact, starting small is one of our key pieces of advice.
Kymberly: Today is a great day to kiss frustration, inertia, and negative self-talk good-bye and say hello to restarting more active habits.
Alexandra: Can I at least have some French Vanilla ice cream with my inertia? And I didn’t know his name was Frustration when I kissed him. But I’d do it all again anyway.
Kymberly: For you, sis, you may partake of the can of Whoop Ass included in this post. For the rest of you, forget fitness trends, celebrity endorsements, or what you used to do when you were younger. We are so committed to helping you undo the glue that’s stuck on you that we are sending all of our current subscribers our checklist. Look for that in a separate email. Be sure to open the email and the document if you want to move more– more happily, comfortably, and successfully. If you are reading this and not a subscriber, then subscribe. (Look right. Yes, that sidebar just there). You’ll get your own copy of “16 Easy Ways to Get Unstuck and More Fit” that way.
In addition to the easy action items we offer in the checklist we’ll be emailing you, try any of the following, additional tips to get going. You can do it! Today and tomorrow and the day after and thereafter. A step at a time.
Consider this post your Bonus Checklist. Otherwise we have to rename the main checklist “A Whole Bunch of Ways to Get Unstuck” and I am waaay too busy
sitting at the computer paddling, biking, taking step class, and walking the dog to do that. So “Bonus” it is.
Does one of the above actions speak to you? Then listen. And go for it. Between the “16 Easy Ways to Get Unstuck and More Fit” checklist and the action items above, you now have um, hold on as I get my fingers out, 22 Easy Tips to Get Going. You need just one to get unstuck and on the path to new active aging habits.
Didn’t get to our TransformAging Summit, but wonder about it? Find out how our webinar expert presenters can youthify and enhancify your post 50 years. Click this TransformAging page.
By Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
One standard definition of aerobic exercise via the American College of Sports Medicine is “any activity that uses large muscle groups, can be maintained continuously, and is rhythmic in nature.” It should also cause the heart and lungs to work harder than at rest. In other words, surprise! You actually ARE getting aerobic exercise with all your walking and dancing, which is great for your heart, weight and cognition. That house cleaning you’re doing also burns calories. We actually charted out the calorie counts for many housekeeping chores in our post Lose Weight Doing House Cleaning.
I AM going to say you need more exercise, though. Just not aerobic necessarily. You don’t mention any resistance training (though you do get flexibility and mind/body points for the yoga). At our age (we are right behind you by a few birthdays), it’s imperative to include resistance work into your life – both with light and heavy resistance (You can define what’s light and heavy for yourself, especially as they will change as you get stronger). Just a few of the benefits:
* weight loss / weight maintenance
* fall prevention / balance
* prevent or delay sarcopenia (muscle wasting)
* bone density
* functional strength (the ability to use your body in daily living activities)
* brain health
* fat burning
* recovery from injury / illness
* sexy good looks
In short, you need to continue with your cardio (aerobic) movement, which is probably no problem, since you are moving all day at work, and you need to add resistance (strength) training. To answer your “how much” question – start with 3 times a week for at least 20 minutes. Very quickly, I’m going to mention proper sleep and good nutrition too. <——- See how quickly I did that?
As you didn’t specify your goal – weight loss, general health, independence, fitness, brain power, looks – you’ll want to adjust the amount, frequency, duration and type of movement according to your goals. In case it gets confusing, we have another post for you to check out: Do THIS if you want to Get Fit, Lose Weight, Live Longer, DeStress .
A good place to start for resistance training might be at our colleague Tamara’s New To Strength Training? An At-Home Beginner Workout Just For You post.
We also have a number of relevant free videos on our YouTube channel, including our “Women Over 50” playlist.
Thank you for writing to us.
by Alexandra Williams, MA
Dear Anne: We can say you are sane enough already to ask a great and common question. Actually you managed a three-in-one special deal as you actually have three separate issues:
And because we like package bonus deals, you get a four part answer to make you happy and zippy!
Problem: Are you dehydrated? Solution: Drink more water
Being underwatered will suck you dry! Even slight dehydration—as little as 2% of normal fluid loss—will reduce your energy levels. Dehydration reduces blood volume, thickening your blood. Then your heart pumps less efficiently, reducing the speed at which oxygen and nutrients reach your muscles and organs, thereby draining your energy.
Problem: Are you anemic? Solution: Get your blood tested
Anemia would cause your stated symptoms. Find out if you’re getting enough iron or losing more than you’re replacing.
Too much sugar? Not eating regular meals or skipping breakfast? Drinking wine late at night or starting the day with simple carbs? Powering through your day by relying on caffeine? Any of these habits will result in overall fatigue.
Your work day is done and so are you! We totally get how tempting a nap sounds after a long, perhaps stressful work day. And maybe what you need is simply to sleep more or to revel in naps, guilt free. Most North American adults undersleep. But you asked about moving, and we are all about activity.
In fact, we bet you already know the counterintuitive reality that exercise increases energy. Studies indicate that as little as three bouts of cardio activity a week for 20 minutes per session boosts energy in as few as six weeks. Once you get past those first few weeks of starting to move more, you will enter that energizer bunny zone where exercise pumps you up rather than drags you down.
To get yourself doing something, the key is to commit to anything, not everything. What is the least you can do given your current exhaustion and ache levels? Determine what is achievable and head for the minimum. We really mean it. Take the mental pressure off yourself and head for the LEAST, not MOST you are willing to start with.
Rather than plunging into high intensity interval training or facing overload weight training, find something you enjoy and that comes easily to you. A resistance training fitness class where you are encouraged to go at your pace. A walk, brisk stroll, or march in place. A yoga, Pilates, stretch, or other mind/body class that combines movement with visualization, relaxation, or quiet time at the end. What about lunges during tv commercials or a few ab exercises before dinner? Just 5 minutes on an indoor bicycle? Steps at home you can go up and down a few times. Water time if you have access to a pool or natural body of water- swimming, pool class, water jogging.
If you still find yourself needing a push to take the fork in the road towards activity, not lethargy, get a dog that likes walks. We might say “later” and “no” to ourselves, but who can deny a pet pooch whose daily walk is the day’s highlight? Wag wag, perky ears and out you go!
If exercise is wearing you out, most likely you need to drop the intensity of your workout. Another possibility is you are choosing stressful moves. Stress will wear you out even if the activity is low intensity.
And of course, we have to interject that your post-exercise nap might be the best thing for you. But if you feel movement is wearing you down, then reduce the intensity or duration. You are either going too hard or too long at this phase of your re-entry program.
Try our Whole Body, No Equipment Needed, Easy as 3-2-1 Routine
Before this post gets too long and tiresome (aha hah ha) let’s go with a simple, straightforward, “gee, we really don’t know your goals, limitations, time available” starting point program. If nothing else, do the following three moves that will address all major muscles of your body. Easy to perform; multi-joint so you get a lot of bang for your buck; and needing no equipment.
When you’re done, walk for 5 minutes.
You will feel so energized you’ll want more. Find that “more” in these posts that also answer your questions:
And of course, we have to mention our recent TransformAging Summit webinar session, “(Re)Starting Fitness Over 50,” which is sponsored by Rancho la Puerta Wellness Resort, a perfect place to ease into exercise. , For sale along with the other 5 presentations. Slides included. $34
First of all Wendy, if you just did a half marathon, you are probably more fit than most of the young people I teach at the university. Congratulations on your achievement.
Let’s help you point by point:
Downward Slope, Effort & Staying Fit: I’ll focus on muscle loss, as you don’t mention a strength training component to your workout. Sarcopenia is the progressive decline in skeletal muscle mass that may lead to decreased strength and functionality. When people talk about the race against time, they are usually talking about sarcopenia.
I wrote an article for The Journal on Active Aging about ways to deal with this that might interest you. Summarized in two words – Resistance Training. If you add some resistance training to your regimen, you’ll be amazed at the results. A 70-year-old who does some form of strength/ resistance training can be more fit than a 20-year-old who doesn’t. Isn’t THAT good news?
I’ll start you with our YouTube playlists, “Healthy Aging Exercises for Women Over 45” and “Women Over 50.”
You’ll also want to check out two of our TransformAging webinar colleagues’ websites – Tamara Grand and Debra Atkinson.
Effortless Walking: Since it sounds like your stamina and heart are chugging along, future effortless walking can be assisted by – you guessed it – resistance training, and balance work to prevent falls. Cody and Dan (our other co-presenters) specialize in this area, so here’s a link to some of their posts on balance.
Sciatica: Most research studies have shown stretching, yoga and low intensity movement (that doesn’t involve twisting) to be most effective in controlling the symptoms. For this we recommend you look locally for instructors who specialize in yoga or Pilates. You’ll want to ask about their certifications, speciality training (for both older adults and back care), and experience. Don’t be shy about asking for references. If you search for exercises online, check the source. For example, we trust the info on this link from the National Institutes of Health.
Final suggestion for now – strengthen your core so your back takes less of the load. We’ll get you started with our post “Abs and Core Exercises That Are Safe for the Lower Back.”
Of course, you can always come to Santa Barbara and join us in one of our classes for older adults. We’ll take good care of you!
by Alexandra Williams, MA
As children, we learned about Ponce de León and the mythical Fountain of Youth. But did you know it actually exists? Not in a creepy, Dorian Gray way either. Every town, every home, and every person has access to the fountain; it’s just known under a different name now. The Fountain of Youth’s true name is …
Ah, ah, ah, don’t get discouraged by that word. You probably thought “easy” when you read “fountain of youth,” and “hard” when you read “exercise.” But what if the path to exercise was much easier than you thought? What if moving and eating better and more appropriately for our midlife years were as easy as the not-so-helpful habits you currently have?
Our TransformAging Webinar Summit is ready to go, and you’re invited to join our 8 experts for this 6-video series that will get you slapping your forehead and saying, “Gee, I could’ve
had a V8 restarted my fitness years ago if I’d realized it wouldn’t be so overwhelming.”
Look below for a few hot tips in the ol’ town tonight that come from the various TransformAging sessions. You’ll get solutions and antidotes for all the Fit Facts below. But first, a few quiz questions to whet your Fountain of Youthiness thirst and appetite:
If you don’t want to be that person spending the last 8 to 9 years of your life ill and in pain, then register for this TransformAging Summit. (If you don’t want to be the caretaker for that person then our webinar series is for you and your loved one). The sooner you take the steps to age actively, the better your upcoming years will be.
So step up to some more of those Fit Facts from the Summit, we say!
In case you didn’t have a chance to read our post giving all the info about the TransformAging Webinar, we’ll list the six video titles again so you can see just how tremendous this FREE (on 6/03 & 6/04) summit is:
Register Right Here – It Costs you $000000 (that’s zero multiplied) for the live broadcast this Wednesday and Thursday at 2:30 pm PDT. And don’t worry – if you cannot watch all six at their original broadcast times, you can get them later for a teeny, tiny payment that’s lower than you’d pay for just one of the workouts Debra Atkinson provides in her session. And put all the money you just saved into the vacation kitty for your future dream trip to Rancho la Puerta spa, a health and wellness retreat just east of San Diego. The Perfect Place for People who want to age actively!
Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA