After a long locked down due to Covid 19 with lots of isolating, working from home and maybe too little physical activity, it might be time to give your core muscles more attention.
These muscles, located throughout much of your trunk, are the key to supporting your lower back and helping you stand, get out of a chair, bend, lift, and maintain your balance. So regular maintenance and tune-ups of the core muscles are important.
Your core muscles provide stability for the moving parts above and below them the mid back, or thoracic, spine that helps you twist and turn, and the hips that move you up, down, back, or forward.
The core starts at the lower rib cage and extends to the buttocks.
Core muscles in the abdomen include the long rectus abdominis muscles in the front; the external and internal obliques on the sides; and a wide, flat girdle in front called the transverses abdominis.
In your back, a group of muscles called the erector spinae help you stand up tall. The gluteal muscles in the buttocks help you extend your leg, push off from a starting point, walk, and climb stairs.And in the pelvis area, the iliacus and the psoas muscles enable you to lift your legs and remain stable while standing; and the quadratus lumborum, a long muscle on each side, helps you bend to the side and back.The best core exercisesA much better approach to strengthening your core is working several core muscle groups at the same time, just the way you would naturally if you were lifting something or climbing. For older adults, recommends three exercises in particular:
Anyone can do a bridge. You start in a recumbent position on your back and then lift and hold your buttocks off the ground. "It's effective because you create rigidity from the rib cage to the pelvis and all the way from the belly button around to the back. The whole region becomes solid, and it creates a contraction of all the muscle groups, like a corset."
Planks create contractions of the core, arm, and shoulder muscles as you stay in a push-up position. The key is staying as stiff as you can, like a wooden plank.
Opposite arm and leg raise.
This exercise gets you on your hands and knees. "As you stretch out the opposite arm and leg, you're contracting your core and the muscles in the other arm and leg as they support you. "Movements should be slow and controlled; don't throw your arm and leg out as fast as you can."
If you haven't worked your core in a long time, I would suggest starting slowly, focusing on the quality of the exercise and gradually increasing the number of times you can do it.
Unlike some muscle groups that should only be worked out every other day, core muscles can be strengthened daily. "The core should always be working. It doesn't need a lot of recovery,".
Remember to do a warm-up before strengthening. March in place for a few minutes and move your arms around to get the blood flowing.
After strengthening, stretch your muscles, especially the hip flexors in the front of your pelvis and the hamstrings in the backs of the thighs.
"We want the core muscles to be short and tight,” Tightness will give it stability. But we want the muscles that surround it to be flexible."
The two most common reasons people give me for not exercising is lack of time and not knowing what type of exercise they should be doing. This is one of the main reasons many people to hire a personal trainer—they want an expert to tell them how to achieve their goals.
Typically, they also want to know how to do it in the most time-efficient manner possible.
Now While single-joint, isolation exercises are ideal for people who have the inclination or time to sculpt the perfect body, they simply aren’t that effective for maximising the calorie burning effects of exercise. If a client’s goal is improving his or her overall fitness level, compound exercises that feature multi point movements involving more than a single muscle group can be extremely effective for realising benefits from all three categories of fitness: cardiovascular, strength and flexibility. Knowing how to use compound exercises can give you specific strategies and techniques for helping your time-strapped clients.
Here are my top four benefits of compound exercises.
Compound exercises improve intermuscular coordination.
This is the function and timing of multiple muscles around a joint or joints. Consider, for example, the gluteal complex (gluteus maximus, Medius and minimus), which is responsible for controlling motion of the hip. Compound exercises such as squats, lunges or steps that move the hips in all three planes can improve how all the muscles work together to produce and control force.
Compound exercises burn more calories.
The body expends 5 calories of energy to consumer 1 litre of oxygen. Exercises that involve more muscle tissue require more oxygen, which helps the body increase its net energy expenditure.
Compound exercises elevate the heart rate and provide a cardiovascular training benefit.
The purpose of cardiovascular exercise is to improve the ability of the heart to function as a pump. This can be accomplished through activities such as running and cycling, or by doing exercises that involve a significant amount of muscle tissue. Sitting in a leg-extension machine doing knee extensions or performing biceps curls with dumbbells uses only a limited amount of muscle tissue; these exercises are more appropriate for focusing on isolated strength. Squats to shoulder presses, medicine ball chops or burpees are all examples of compound exercises that involve large amounts of muscle tissue, which challenges the heart to pump blood to keep the muscles fuelled and active.
Compound exercises improve movement efficiency.
Have you ever noticed that body builders move robotically? This is because training only one muscle group at a time does not teach multiple muscle groups to coordinate their contractions and firing rates, which is how muscles contract. Compound exercises that involve large groups of muscles teach the muscles how to coordinate the firing of the motor units responsible for timing muscle contractions. Compound exercises can help your clients improve their movement skills and dynamic balance, which can help improve overall quality of life.
Being a Fitness Coach I can safely say one of the most overlooked aspects of exercise is stretching after a strenuous workout. Stretching tired and sore muscles after a workout is essential as it enhances flexibility and reduces muscle tension after a workout.
Stretching should be a part of any well-balanced workout routine or programs, given the same importance as strength and cardiovascular training.
Stretching after working out should not only highly recommended practice but must be practise without failing. The benefits of stretching before a workout are often discussed, emphasizing its role in injury prevention. When you stretch after a workout, you benefit from both physiological and psychological effects.
Your muscles should be warm before you begin your stretching. Do a warmup before a workout that simulates the movements, you’ll be doing to warm up and prepare your body. Stretch after the workout when your muscles are already warm.
Improved Blood circulation
When you indulge in an intense workout, the body pumps blood faster to the heart making it beat at a rapid rate. Stretching allows the body to cool down and helps the heartbeat to return to normalcy. The release of lactic acid during an intense workout is broken with stretching.
This allows muscle recovery and repair. The blood circulation to the muscles is once again resumed with stretching. This also allows the heart rate to come back to its original resting rate.
Eliminates Lactic Acid
The moment you work out muscles, the body produces lactic acid which makes the muscles fatigued and sore. Hence, it is important to stretch as stretching eliminates the lactic acid that has accumulated inside the body and relaxes the muscles.
One of the foremost benefits of stretching is increased and enhanced flexibility of the different muscle groups. It helps constricted and contracted muscles release back to their more comfortable state and your body will eventually become more flexible, which can help prevent injuries
With consistent post -workout stretching, the body becomes more flexible. You will find it easier to bend, stand, squat and do a host of other flexibility related exercises, which would have otherwise not been possible. It has been seen that leg stretches done after a long run increases muscular power and endurance especially for runners.
Stretching properly after a workout will not dissipate the pain but will minimize it to a large extent. On the other hand, if your muscles remain tight after a workout, it increases your risk of muscle injury. Stretching can minimize and reduce your predisposition to injuries.
Improved Range of Motion
Muscles that have not been stretched tend to remain constricted which prevents you from using them to their full capacity.
If you use your muscles and stretch them after a workout, you will be able to utilize the same muscles towards a greater range of motion. This will get your better results because you will have used your muscles to their maximum capacity.
Increased Muscular Coordination
Enhanced muscle coordination is a common benefit of stretching, especially for people participating in strength training. When you stretch tired muscles, you give them better functional mobility and allow them to synchronize properly.
Gradually slows down the body
When you go through an intense bout of exercise, your body can feel drained and fatigued, but stretching and breathing techniques will help you feel rested and relaxed. By gradually slowing down the body, as opposed to just stopping cold, you maximize the benefits of your workout.
Mental clarity and mind-body connection
Stretching isn’t just for the muscles. It also helps harmonize your mind, relax your mood, and relieve stress. Stretching also gives you a chance to tune into your body, taking notice of any sore muscles or joints that need extra attention or a break.
The best exercise I do in any of my training programs only takes a minute.
Granted, it is often the longest and most gruelling 60 seconds of my life. I sweat, I shake, and I often collapse in relief when it’s over. But spending quality time in a plank pose always pays off.
The plank pose is where you hold a push-up position while resting on your forearms. This simple move is the ideal exercise for strengthening crucial core muscles. As you go about your day, almost every move you make revolves around your core — from picking up items on the floor to twisting to see if the coast is clear when driving.
Why is it important to have a strong core?
Your core is made up of several muscle groups and covers your abdominals, back, hips, pelvis, and buttocks. A weak core can cause all kinds of problems. It can lead to poor posture, and inevitably to neck and shoulder pain. Sore knees and hips often can be traced to a weak core.
But the biggest issue with core weakness is pain lower Back muscles and your core help to stabilize your body before any movement. If your core is weak, the other surrounding muscles must compensate. Over time, these muscles can suffer strain, which leads to lingering pain.
More Planks and Less sit-up
The standard sit-up is often the go-to core strengthened, but it has limits. “It only targets a portion of the core musculature, and the bending-forward motion can strain the neck and lower back,”
By comparison, the plank pose activates all the core muscles at once and doesn’t require extra movements that can cause stress or injury. “And because it has many modifications, it can be done by almost anyone, regardless of current fitness level,”
How long should you hold a plank?
The world record for holding a plank is more than four hours, but thankfully, you don’t need to devote that much time. Most experts suggest anywhere from 10 up to 30 seconds is plenty. “Focus on doing multiple sets of smaller amounts of time
As you progress, you can extend your plank for up to one or even two minutes, but don’t go beyond that. “Two minutes is often considered the maximum, and you don’t get much more benefit after that.
How often should you do planks?
You can perform a plank every day, on alternate days, or simply as part of your regular workouts. (I personal add plank in my routines every training days with different progressions and regressions.)
This blog is updated by Tranquillity 360 fitness personal trainers, as well as other guest bloggers.