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Abdominals/Core

Primed to Squat

Why is it that so few people can squat correctly, yet my 8-year-old son squats perfectly? I’ve never taught him how to squat; he innately learned how, just as he learned to roll over, crawl, pull himself up and eventually walk. He simply needed the freedom to allow his body to move. Movement before strength is key.

Simplicity Steers Success

client: Jennifer | personal trainer: John Parker | location: San Diego

Keeping it simple. Every day it seems there’s a new supplement, food plan or training program that purports to produce unparalleled results. But all of these choices can make it difficult for clients to make wise choices and remain consistent in their approach. That was the problem faced by Jennifer, a florist and part-time kickboxing instructor, and it’s why she reached out to San Diego–based personal trainer John Parker, CSCS.

Sample Class: Center and Roll

This class is a mega movement multi­vitamin because it combines essential core training with restorative self-myofascial release techniques. Every movement recruits trunk muscles, creating a strong foundation for any physical challenge. The foam-rolling section helps attendees release fascial adhesions and, hopefully, prevent injuries. Participants will leave feeling strong, centered and relaxed.

Center and Roll Details
Goal/emphasis: core training and self-myofascial release
Total time: 1 hour

Multiple Planes, Many Positions

Participants may have a love-hate relationship with your core routines, but there’s no reason why you can’t make things fun while helping people to move, feel and look better. Ideally, the core-training exercises you choose will hit multiple planes from many positions (supine, prone, side-lying, sitting, kneeling, standing) while also stabilizing the pelvis, spine and scapulae. This functional approach prepares the body for the rigors of daily life.

A Scientific Approach to Core Training

Core training can improve functional capacity and reduce injury potential. But accurately programming a successful, tailored and progressive core- training protocol can be a complicated endeavor. Now, researchers from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland, have developed a model they hope gives fitness pros a solid platform to work from.

How Older Adults Can Boost Psychological Well-Being

Researchers from Finland have determined that older adults who pump iron can build more than muscle: Resis­tance training can strengthen their outlook on life. The scientists say frequency is an important variable in maximizing benefits.

The Pelvic Floor: Base Support & More

Does the pelvic floor get the props it deserves? Many fitness professionals who specialize in women’s health think it warrants more respect and attention. Trista Zinn, founder of Hypopressives in Toronto, says the pelvic floor is “overlooked and misunderstood by many.” She adds, “Our quality of life and athletic performance literally rest on [the pelvic floor’s] synergistic ability to function with the core as a whole.”

No-Neck-Pain Abs

How often do you hear participants complain about neck pain when you teach core moves in your classes? For many people dealing with ongoing neck-positioning issues, this is a real struggle. No matter how effectively the head is supported, they still have issues with neck stress for various reasons, including lack of strength, natural biomechanics or previous injury. These constraints prevent some participants from getting the most from your core/abdominal workouts and may inadvertently limit overall core strength. However, you can support these participants by offering the right moves.

Conditioning for Kayaking

Did you know that 13 million people participated in some form of kayaking in 2014, making it one of the most popular flatwater sports (Outdoor Foundation 2015)? If you’re a kayaker, you know that the main challenges are building upper-body strength for paddling and maintaining a strong lower back to avoid back pain.

3 Effective Abs Exercises Anyone Can Do

Essentially, any exercise that uses the anterior and/or posterior muscles to stabilize the spine—and is performed in a coordinated fashion—works the core. It’s important to include some kind of core moves in all classes, particularly those in which core training might not be emphasized. Try the following exercises in one of your next classes; these moves are appropriate in a range of settings and will be effective with various pieces of equipment.

Creative Ideas That Inspire

H.I.I.P. Hype (High-Intensity Interval Painting) in New York challenges body, mind and creativity. Ninety–minute sessions begin with a warm-up followed by short intervals of high-intensity body-weight exercises interspersed with periods of painting. The energy participants generate while exercising helps them express themselves more freely when they paint, according to organizers. The last 15 minutes of class are reserved for a cool-down, as well as painting presentations. Mats and art materials are provided.

Training the Pelvic Core

"I wish someone had told me this could happen to my body after having a baby!" . . . "Why did my doctor tell me I could return to exercise at my 6–week checkup?"

Suggested Repetition Ranges for Strength, Hypertrophy

Improving strength and increasing muscle mass are two prominent goals for exercisers. According to recent research, both goals require significantly different training protocols.
Published in the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine (2016; 15, 715–22), the small study involved 19 men (~23 years old) with experience in resistance training. They were assigned to one of two protocols—one aimed at building strength (heavy resistance), the other designed to build muscle (hypertrophy).

The Science of Suspension Exercise

Suspension exercise combines body weight and anchored, seatbelt-like straps to provide an alternative to free weights and machines. The question on a lot of trainers’s minds is whether these strap-based training systems work as well as more traditional resistance training tools. Though research into this question has been somewhat sparse, studies are starting to paint a picture of effective ways to integrate suspension exercise into a workout program.

Safe Stabilization

Exercise guidelines call for people with osteoporosis to avoid flexing or twisting the spine (National Osteoporosis Foundation 2015). This makes training the core a little more challenging. Planks (side and prone) and bridges are both great options, but they can get boring. The exercises below safely target the core without spinal flexion or twisting.

Ball Warding

Stand sideways to wall, hands centered on stability ball. Arms are straight, at shoulder level. Press hands into ball, and tap each foot back (alternate).

Sample Class: Farmhand Fitness

Several years ago, I attended an IDEA World Fitness Convention™ session led by Michol Dalcourt, director of the Institute of Motion. During that presentation, he discussed hockey camps he used to lead and described the differences in capabilities among the young athletes. He remarked that athletes from rural areas tended to perform better on the ice than those from cities and towns. His assertion: The rural hockey players’ advantage was due to full-body training using low-tech “tools” like heavy logs or hay bales.

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