Healthy Core Training

Better Abs Without Risk to Your Back

Healthy Core Training
Healthy Core Training

The traditional road to building ‘six-pack’ abs was simple: lose fat and do hundreds of sit-ups and leg raises. This was a practical approach that worked. For decades, it served as the foundation for abdominal development in top fitness models, bodybuilders, and athletes.

These exercises can destroy your back! They cause tremendous loads on the spine that can injure and rupture spinal disks and give you a lifetime of back pain. Also, they isolate only a few ‘look good’ muscles and do a poor job of building functional fitness in core muscles that link the upper and lower body.

Recent studies found that many popular, traditional exercises such as sit-ups damage the spine. As alternatives, spine-saving exercises build the core muscles without causing back pain. They tone muscles without damaging the fragile spinal disks and will give you a lean, rock-hard midsection and functionally strong core muscles that work together flawlessly and maintain a pain-free spine that will last a lifetime.

Core fitness is the key to an athletic, manly physique that will turn heads— and functional whole-body strength and power. The core includes the muscles and connective tissue in the thorax, or central part of the body. Powerful, fit core muscles look lean and project the image of a warrior. They allow you to transfer force from strong lower-body muscles to flexible, elastic upper-body muscles so that you can serve a volleyball, hit a golf ball, or roll a bowling ball with power and accuracy.

Hundreds of exercises build the core. This article will describe four. These simple exercises will build core muscle fitness without damaging the spine. Do them at least five days a week and you will have a lean, functionally fit, studly midsection.

The ‘Basic Four’ Core Training Program

This is a good basic exercise program for busy ladies on the go who want to build a strong and healthy core and general fitness. Do the ‘Basic Four’ Core Training Program five to seven days per week. Modify the program if it is too difficult at first. Increase the repetitions and sets until you can do the entire program. Do this program at least 1 hour after getting out of bed.

Day

Workout

Monday

• Curl-ups: 2 sets of 20 reps; rest 1 minute between sets.

• Side-bridges: 2 sets of 10 reps (each side), holding each rep for 5 seconds; rest 1 minute between sets.

• Bird-dogs: 2 sets of 10 reps (each side), holding each rep for 5 seconds.

• Kettlebell Swings: 2 sets of 20 reps; rest 2 minutes between sets.

• Cardio: walk briskly with vigorous arm swing for 30-90 minutes.

Tuesday

• Curl-ups: 2 sets of 20 reps; rest 1 minute between sets.

• Side-bridges: 2 sets of 10 reps (each side), holding each rep for 5 seconds; rest 1 minute between sets.

• Bird-dogs: 2 sets of 10 reps (each side), holding each rep for 5 seconds.

• Kettlebell Swings: 2 sets of 20 reps; rest 2 minutes between sets.

• Cardio: walk briskly with vigorous arm swing for 30-90 minutes.

Wednesday

Rest

Thursday

• Curl-ups: 2 sets of 20 reps; rest 1 minute between sets.

• Side-bridges: 2 sets of 10 reps (each side), holding each rep for 5 seconds; rest 1 minute between sets.

• Bird-dogs: 2 sets of 10 reps (each side), holding each rep for 5 seconds.

• Kettlebell swings: 2 sets of 20 reps; rest 2 minutes between sets.

• Cardio: walk briskly with vigorous arm swing for 30-90 minutes.

Friday

• Curl-ups: 2 sets of 20 reps; rest 1 minute between sets.

• Side-bridges: 2 sets of 10 reps (each side), holding each rep for 5 seconds; rest 1 minute between sets.

• Bird-dogs: 2 sets of 10 reps (each side), holding each rep for 5 seconds.

• Kettlebell Swings: 2 sets of 20 reps; rest 2 minutes between sets.

• Cardio: walk briskly with vigorous arm swing for 30-90 minutes.

Saturday

• Curl-ups: 2 sets of 20 reps; rest 1 minute between sets.

• Side-bridges: 2 sets of 10 reps (each side), holding each rep for 5 seconds; rest 1 minute between sets.

• Bird-dogs: 2 sets of 10 reps (each side), holding each rep for 5 seconds.

• Kettlebell swings: 2 sets of 20 reps; rest 2 minutes between sets.

• Cardio: walk briskly with vigorous arm swing for 30-90 minutes.

Sunday

Rest

Exercise Descriptions

Curl-ups: Lie on your back on the floor with your right knee bent, right foot flat on the floor, and left leg extended. Place your hands across your chest. Contract your rectus abdominis (front abdominal muscle), drawing your breastbone downward. Try not to lift your neck or shoulders, and maintain a neutral spine; let the ab muscles do the work. Begin with one set of 10 reps and increase to 2 sets of 20 reps as fitness increases.

Side-bridges: Lie on your side and support your body between your forearm and knees. Hold your spine in a neutral position (normal curves)— avoid letting your back sag during the exercise. Do this exercise on your left and right sides (10 reps on your left side, followed by 10 reps on your right). Build up to 2 sets of 10 reps, holding each side-bridge for 5 seconds. Rest 1 minute between sets. As you increase fitness, support your weight between your forearm and feet.

Bird-dogs: Balance on your hands and knees. Lift your right leg and left arm, and extend your leg to the rear, and reach to the front with your arm and hold for 5 seconds. Don’t arch your back during this exercise. Return to the starting position by sweeping your knee close to the ground. Repeat this exercise with the opposite arm and leg. Build up to 2 sets of 10 repetitions, holding each bird-dog for 5 seconds. Rest 1 minute between sets.

Kettlebell Swings: Beginners should start with an 18-pound kettlebell. Begin by holding the kettlebell in both hands with palms facing toward you, in a standing position with knees bent, feet placed slightly more than shoulder-width apart, hips flexed, back straight, chest out, and head in a neutral position. Holding the kettlebell at knee level, swing the weight to a horizontal position by initiating the motion with the hips, thighs, and abs (tighten the quads, glutes, and ab muscles as hard as you can), keeping your arms straight and relaxed during the movement. Let the weight swing back between your legs in a ‘football hiking’ motion, and then repeat the exercise. During the movement, hinge at the hips and not at the spine.

Core Exercise Facts and Recommendations

• Take the Core Muscle Strength & Stability Test once a month to measure progress.

• Practice the basic core exercises (curl-ups, side-bridges, bird-dogs, kettlebell swings) five to seven days per week. These exercises develop muscle endurance rather than strength, so you can practice them more often than traditional weight-training exercises.

• Train movements— not muscle.

• Do most core exercises on a solid surface. Most studies found that exercising on unstable surfaces (i.e., Swiss orBOSU balls) is less effective for loading the core muscles than training on solid surfaces. However, instability training adds variety to your program, so it has some value.

• Training on unstable surfaces increases the load on the spine. Build fitness in your core support muscles before incorporating exercise ball training into your program.

• Muscle endurance is more important than strength in determining core stability. Don’t concentrate on core muscle strength and power until those muscles have good endurance.

• Don’t do core training first thing in the morning. The water content of the spinal disks remains high for at least 45 minutes after getting out of bed. Also, don’t do any high-force exercise after sitting for prolonged periods. Prolonged lying or sitting increases the risk of injury to the disks.

• Avoid full-flexion exercises (bend over at the waist toward the knees), such as sit-ups and trunk-flexion machines. Also, avoid forceful motions in the trunk to the ends of the range of motion. It takes very little stress to rupture spinal disks when the trunk is in full flexion.

• When beginning a program, learn to handle your bodyweight before using resistance. For example, if you can’t squat properly without weight, you may get injured if you squat using weight.

• Cardio exercise, particularly fast walking with full arm swing, is important for building core muscles and reducing fat around the abdomen.

• Avoid using exercise machines that restrict motion and support the body, because they interfere with motor control necessary for smooth movements and preventing injury. Core training should emphasize whole-body motions rather than isolating muscles and joints.

• Tense (brace) your core muscles, particularly the abdominals, when lifting weights or performing total-body movements in sports such as softball, tennis, or golf. This involves squeezing and tensing your core muscles during exercises, which protects the spine. Breathe normally when bracing the core. Do not suck in your gut (called hallowing) because this decreases the broad abdominal base that supports the spine.

• Use good form when doing exercises. Muscle fatigue destabilizes the spine and can lead to injury.

©2017 Advanced Research Media. Long Island Web Design