Belly Button to Spine… What Does That Mean?!

At Boot Camp the other night I had a student ask about proper abdominal contraction during ab workouts. My response was the often heard “…ensure your belly button is drawn back towards your spine”. She looked at me like this ————–>

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Here is a better explanation of this concept…

Are you sitting down? Okay, sit up straight, and try this.

Suck in your gut as much as you can. Notice how you feel as if your belly button turns up. Your waist sucks in. It’s also quite difficult to breath.

Let that out. 🙂

Now, imagine you are using your stomach muscles (abs) to pull your belly button backwards. Not back and up, just straight back. So that your belly button touches (of course it won’t literally) your spine.

You should notice that it feels more muscular, less tummy-sucking, and that your belly button feels straighter, not tipped up, and that breathing is a lot easier than sucking in your tummy.

I notice that when I suck in my tummy my spare roll above sucks in nicely. But when I pull my belly button to my spine it doesn’t anywhere near as much.

Check out the blog entry Is Your Ab Workout Hurting Your Back for a better explanation of the reasoning as to why your back may hurt when doing an ab workout. Here is a great brief article from Livestrong.com too…

Muscle Contractions
When doing ab exercises, make sure to use muscle on the way up and down, and pause in between each movement. Don’t let gravity bring you down after an upward movement. This will create concentric, eccentric and isometric muscle contractions. You’ll get the most benefit from eccentric muscle contractions, such as lowering yourself during a crunch or sit-up. Don’t let yourself fall back down after you sit up — slowly lower yourself using your core muscles. Introduce constant tension by not lowering yourself all the way after a crunch, sit-up or pull-up. If you keep your shoulders off the floor after lowering yourself from a sit-up or crunch, you’ll keep tension in your ab muscles, creating isometric contractions.

Direction
To increase the benefit of your ab workouts, move side to side, not just forward and back. For example, in addition to doing crunches by moving up and down, reach across your body with one elbow toward the opposite knee. Lie on your side and raise your shoulders off the floor to work your obliques, located on the side of core. Use a medicine ball to do twists. Hold the ball at arms’ length in front of you. Turn to the side using your core, then hold the ball. Return to the center, then move in the opposite direction. Change the technique by placing the ball on the floor, next to your hip each time. If you use an ab wheel, roll forward and backward, then add forward rolls veering to the left and right to work the obliques.

Compensatory Movements
You can work your abs using a variety of exercises. You can use an ab wheel, kettlebell, stability ball, medicine ball, weight machines or do body weight exercises such as sit-ups, crunches, hip raises, bicycle kicks or kipping pull-ups. With all of these exercises, it’s important to use your core muscles to perform the movements to prevent back and neck strain. As you begin to tire during your workout, avoid using your hips and back to help you move up or down — this could lead to a back injury. Don’t pull yourself up with your hands if you have them behind your neck during sit-ups and crunches.

Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/375907-ab-workout-techniques/#ixzz2M1YIgUka

AMRAP & Tabata Workout for Boot Campers!

AT HOME or BOOT CAMP: AMRAP and Tabata Workout

This is a great workout in less than an hour that can be done individually or in a group setting! Wondering what a tabata is?  Check out “What is Tabata Training.”

AMRAP (As Many Reps (or Rounds) As Possible): 15 MIN

20 of each:

Speed Skaters: Jump to your right, landing on your right foot and stretching your left arm across your body. Quickly transition to the other side, jumping to your left foot and crossing the right arm across the body. Consistently switch back and forth until finished with the reps.

Sumo Squats: squats with your feet wider than hip width and with toes pointing out—require a unique combination of hip flexibility and glute and inner-thigh strength. 

Plie Jacks: Start in a low plié squat. Hop up as high as you can and click your heels in together at the center. Land back in a plié squat. Repeat for reps.

Ski Jumps: Bend your knees slightly, reach your arms back and jump over your object. Land with both feet on the ground and stop for one second, stabilizing yourself. Repeat: Jump, land, stop, jump, land…


3 sets of the dreaded stairs!
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Then on to the tabata!… 

TABATA: 16 rounds 20 sec/ 10 rest

v-ups
superman
weighted russian twists
plank ups

TABATA: 16 rounds 20 sec/ 10 rest

bicep curls
tricep dips
wide arm pushups
globe jumps

Double the Fun! A Great Paired /Team Boot Camp Workout!

I typically try to alternate between individual and group games each boot camp session.  I have found that the group games foster a positive and encouraging environment for new boot campers, while the individual challenges allow each participant to focus on tackling individual challenges on their own.  The women empower each other and support each other making this a great pair game!

My favorite (and the group’s favorite) partner activity is our Double the Fun activity.  This game is the most fun in the Spring and Summer months when we are able to be outside and run the “stairs”.  The Double the Fun workout is as follows”

Equipment:  Dumbbells (various weights or bands will work, have students bring their yoga mats)

Ask boot campers to partner up! One member of each pair will run the stairs

The dreaded STAIRS!

while the other does the exercise and then they will switch.  When we run the stairs – up and down counts for 1x- as my participants’ fitness ability increased – we went from 1x on the stairs to 2x.

*note that the exercises listed below are just examples.  I switch out different exercises all the time!

Round ONE:

Sumo Squats ———> other person runs the stairs 2x then switches w/ partner
V-Sits ———> other person runs the stairs 2x then switches w/ partner
Bicep Curl ———> other person runs the stairs 2x then switches w/ partner
Speed Ladder ———> other person runs the stairs 2x then switches w/ partner

Round TWO:

Russian Twist ———> other person runs the stairs 2x then switches w/ partner
Plank Ups ———> other person runs the stairs 2x then switches w/ partner
Tricep Dips ———> other person runs the stairs 2x then switches w/ partner
Globe Jumps ———> other person runs the stairs 2x then switches w/ partner

Round THREE:

Right Leg Lunge ———> other person runs the stairs 2x then switches w/ partner
Left Leg Lunges ———> other person runs the stairs 2x then switches w/ partner
Bicycles ———> other person runs the stairs 2x then switches w/ partner
Burpees ———> other person runs the stairs 2x then switches w/ partner

By the time this workout is completed, each participant will have run the stairs 24 times.  A feat that amazes the ladies every time we do it!  The most rewarding aspect of this activity is how excited and proud each grrrl is when they realize how much they accomplished and how great they feel!

The “Face of Fitness”? Is it really this?

 

I recently posted about my entry into the Fitness Magazine Face of Fitness contest. The response from friends, family, blog followers, and long-forgotten high school friends has been amazing.

Yesterday I was in fourth place and today I find myself in sixth place. For me the #FaceofFitness contest is not really about winning, but about a collection of strong and amazing women who represent what it means to be fit- both physically and mentally. I must say I am dismayed at the current lead contestants. My own opinion is that many of these ladies do not truly represent the same fitness values that I do. I have always believed that no matter the body type, weight, or chest size of a woman the true fitness value is how she feels about herself and her own body image. Fitness is about goals and improvement; It is a personal journey that isn’t measured by the size of your dress, but rather the improvements and life changes made every day. It is also about how you make other people feel and supporting and encouraging others as they make their own journey.

That being said- i’m okay with not winning this contest. I know who I am and I have an entire contingent of women who I get to inspire, coach, and be inspired by every single day. But I really would like to see a woman who TRULY represents the Face of Fitness win instead of a stereotypical model-esque woman.

If you want to vote for me please do and you can do so here: Vote for me!!!

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Vote for Me – I promise not to call your house!

You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great!”

I have some pretty amazing women in my life and am blessed. I was reminded of this today when I was encouraged to enter in the Fitness Magazine Face of Fitness contest and then supported by so many of my fitness friends, spin class members, and boot campers! UPDATE! Be sure to go vote because if the current #1 is the “face of fitness” then I am very concerned about what some consider the definition of fitness!

Go Vote 🙂

My entry is currently in the running to become this week’s Reader’s Choice winner. The Grand Prize winner will be in a FITNESS magazine photo shoot and receive an all-new 2013 Ford Escape! You can vote every day this week, but voting ends 11/11/2012.

Vote Now
Share your entry with your friends and family so they can vote too and let’s put fitness and exercise that is good for the mind, body, and soul of women (and men too) back on the map. It is not about weight or dress size, its about being a better you! “

Tweeting it? Use hashtag #FaceOfFitness

 

A Killer AMRAP/ Tabata Workout

This workout incorporates elements of a tabata workout and also an AMRAP workout (made popular by CrossFit).  You can get a pretty cool app for your iPhone or iPad for just a couple bucks!

Workout

Drill 1 – 10 Minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible)

  • 10 burpees
  • 20 180 squat jumps
  • 20 joey jumps (start in push up position and jump side to side)
  • 10 box jumps
  • 200m run

Drill 2 – Tabata 20:10 (8 rounds) 16 minutes total

Complete the following exercises twice each (requires medicine ball)

a) V-ups (lie on back, raise your legs and arms and move them towards each other, meet at midline)

b) Dead flies (Lie on back raise legs and arms, bring knees into chest and arms will go over your knees in shape of cannon ball then extend out into straight body position)

c) Russian weight (optional) twist

d) Plank

Drill 3 – Tabata 20:10 (8 rounds) 16 minutes total

Complete the following exercises twice each (requires medicine ball)

a) bicep curls

b) shoulder press

c) kick backs

d) Push ups

Cool Down

  • Slow jog 300m
  • Stairs (8 times)
  • Stretching