What’s in a Workout?

As a trainer, every type of goal you can think of has been presented by a client at some point in time. While the most  common is weight loss, people also come in wanting to be able to run races or improve their ability in a specific sport. They may be seeking to regulate blood pressure or diabetes. Battling depression or cancer, regaining the ability to walk free of assistance, gaining weight after a battle with an eating disorder…. the reasons are as varied as the workouts that accomplish all these goals.

It can be understandably daunting to begin a workout program when you’re not even sure how to start the treadmill.

This post will not give you a workout program. It will, however, point you in the right direction as you start planning your fitness regimen.

In a previous post, we discussed the different aspects of physical fitness. But more specifically, here are the areas that are typically adressed.

Stability
Mobility
Muscular strength
Muscular endurance
Flexibility
Cardio respiratory health (aerobic)
Power and speed
Agility

It’s important to remember that the first one listed, stability, is the basis of all human movement and must be addressed first. That’s why we’re going to discuss it today.

Stability doesn’t just imply balance. It also means internal stability, the principle of our muscles, skeletal system, ligaments and joints being able to effectively hold your body in place. The very center of your body, where your center of gravity originates, is where stability must be addressed first. Where is your center of gravity? Your core.

When most people think of working their core, the envision crunches and six packs.

No.

The core consists of not just your abdominals, but your lower back and the thoracic region (think rib cage and chest) as well. This means that to gain stability throughout the entire body, you must first focus on these areas. Your core is responsible for supporting all of your extremeties properly and also keeps the spine in the correct position. A weak core contributes to a multitude of postural issues. Many of those can lead to injury, chronic back pain and weakness. It is essential to keep the core functioning correctly.

So how? Here are some exercises you can try to work on strengthening your entire core.

Plank
Side plank
Floor marches
Woodchops
Leg raises
Back extensions (on a back extension bench, machine or stability ball)
Supermans
Bird dog
Quadruped balances

This is just a very basic list, the possibilities are endless. However these movements are normally fairly easy to complete with the proper form and can be done at home or the gym.

When performing these exercises, here are some key points to help keep your form in check.

Don’t excessively arch the lower back. There should naturally be a slight arch but in the beginning, hyperextension is undesirable.

To properly engage the muscles of the core, you want to squeeze those muscles as if someone were about to punch you in the stomach. This is a difficult muscle contraction to explain to people, and this is the easiest way I’ve found to describe it.

Keep your chin in a neutral position. You don’t want your chin tucked into your chest or tilted back.

Keep your movements slow and controlled as you learn to properly engage the muscles of the core. You  don’t need to rush through these exercises.

Your core is the basis of movement in all daily activities. Ensuring that it is strong enough is a crucial step in planning your workouts and a great starting point as you begin a healthy lifestyle. If you’d like a detailed workout or program to get you headed towards a stronger, more stable core, message me for more information.

Shine on,

Becca M.

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