Strengthen your core with these 10 exercises

There is a difference between training your core vs. training your abs for a six pack. We covered this last week. If you missed it don’t worry I have your back,   you can catch up here.

If you couldn’t tell, I’m a huge fan of training the functionality of  our core over just training for aesthetically pleasing abs.  

A strong core can help alleviate a lot of pain people have along with preventing‚Äč many common injuries.

But how do we train our core properly to do it’s job right?  Well stick around my friend because today I am going to share with you my 10 favorite exercises to train your core.

It’s hard for me to pick just 10 movements because I honestly believe that every exercise is a core exercise.  

Every movement we make requires us to activate our core to some degree.  If we didn’t we would just flop over like a fish anytime we tried to move.

When training our core we need to work it a few ways.  We need to work flexion and extension (folding and unfolding), stabilization (remain up right/bracing), anti-rotation, and rotation.

I know it can get confusing because we are working a lot of opposite movements, but that is how complex and important our core is. 

 Our core needs to be able to perform all those movements to help us move properly and protect the spine.

I don’t want to end up like Chris Jericho reading the 1000 moves of Dean Malenko, here is my condensed list of the 10 best exercises you should do to train your core.

Plank

I love planks.  They are the most simple exercise to strengthen the stability  of our core and teach us what perfect posture feels like.  

I feel it is a pre-requisite for all movement.

If done right the plank is a total body exercise incorporating not only our abs, but our glutes, back, quads, shoulders, and chest, just to name a few.

The fun is not over once you mastered the plank.  

We can progress the plank by doing things like adding movement with the arms and legs (marches, plank jacks, renegade rows, spider mans, saw planks, T-drill, push ups, shoulder taps, etc.),  side planks, 3 point planks, and so much more. 

Dead bug, bird dog, & Crawls

I love using dead bugs and bird dogs to teach how the core flexes and extends.  

The dead bug works on the flexion (bringing everything in).

The bird dog teaches extension and hip and core stability.  

The bird dog has us work our limbs contra-laterally (opposite arm/opposite leg).  This forces us to balance on one knee (hip stability) while we extend the opposite leg and extend the arm on the other side away from each other.  This provides for some nice anti-rotational core strength.

Ever hear that you need to crawl before you can walk?  Well they were right.  

Once we mastered the dead bug and bird dog we can put the two together and begin to crawl.

Crawling teaches us how to engage the core and stabilize as we move.  It is also great for stability in the hip and shoulders.

Crawling is great for core work, strength, and conditioning.  I love crawling forwards, backwards, and even side to side.

The different directions will help to hit the core, shoulders and hips in a variety of ways.

Anything Over head

Any time we put something overhead we force our core to engage.  If our core did not engage we would collapse like a house of cards under the weight.

That is what makes things like over head squats so hard.

One of my favorite things to do is to perform single side press work.  This is great for not only engaging the core properly, but starts to incorporate anti-rotational bracing.

Breaching our core as we go over head keeps us strong, efficient, and safe so we stay up right and dont lean over and drop the weight, or injure ourselves.

Tuck variations

Knee tucks, leg raises, pikes, marches all of these would fall under the “tuck” category.  These are great for working the lower abs and deep hip flexor muscles.

I love using floor sliders or adding mini bands to these movements.


Crunches

Let’s get this out of the way, I hate sit ups.  That is why I never program them. 

 The truth is people just don’t do them right.  They use their hip muscles and low back muscles to get them off the ground.

With crunches I can put you in a position where I can teach you to brace your core properly and not use your lower back and hips to help you.

The two ways I like to do this is with 90/90 crunches and vertical crunches.  We can even build off those into sprinter crunches, v ups, and even twisting vertical crunches.

Single arm rows

Performing dynamic single arm rows is one of  my favorite ways to work in rotational work to hit the obliques.  

I use a kettlebell, resistance bands or TRX straps to get these done.  These are great for performance as it can mimic how the core moves when we run.

Ball slams/rainbows/throws

Med balls are great for the core.  We can slam them to work flexion, We can do rainbows (side slam) and hit our hips and obliques, and we can throw them a variety of ways which requires us to brace to protect the spine, and to help link our hips and upper body together to generate power.  

Throws are amazing because we can work in all directions letting us hit our core from all angles.  We can throw med balls forward, backwards, sideways, low to high, high to low, and even diagonally.

People have even made games out of throws such as med ball volley ball and med ball tennis.  See core work is fun ūüėČ 

Carries

What more can I say about carries.  I love them.  They do so much good for us.  

There are so many way to do carries and each object and hold variation something unique.  

Try these out for your self.  Hold your object by your sides, cradled in your arms, on your back, rack position, waiters position, over head, or to make things extra spicy try bottoms up carries with a  kettle bell.  

You can even play with the weight balance to challenge your anti-rotational muscles (weight only on one side or with unequal weights in both).

All of these ways of carrying will challenge your stability and anti rotation like you wouldn’t believe.  Also like crawls they are a great way to build your conditioning up.


KB swing

Powerful extension of the abs and hips.  Also if you fight the force and the end of the extension of the swing (right before the bell comes down) it really forces the core to work hard.


Pallov holds

Great anti-rotational exercise that doesn’t look hard, but leave me in a pile of sweat every time.

Set up a resistance band, or cable machine shoulder height, twist until hands are in line with your chest, and hold.

Start standing and then as your core gets stronger and the holds become easier start to decrease your base.  Go from standing to kneeling on both knees, then kneeling on one knee.

The same can be done with movement.  Go from holding with the arms out stretched to, adding in an up and down movement with your straight arms, or  try pulling the band in to the chest and pressing it back out, and the most spicy one would be small circles with your arms stretched out.

All of these variations will make your core scream.  Just Remember work both sides.

Do you have any favorite core exercises you would like to share?  Let us know in the comments below.

Also click this link to download my free guideon how to build your very own affordable home gym.

Friday Fit 5 for 3/24/17

Hey guys been a busy week, but couldn’t leave all of you hanging without the 5 fittest articles this week. ¬†So let’s get right to it.

get it on.jpg

  1. Interesting thoughts here.  Do you think strength training is prehab?
  2. Think exercise is not important?  Check out what happens to your brain once you stop exercising.
  3. Fight nutritional deficiencies based on your cravings.  Here is how
  4. Who doesn’t love Penne ala Vodka. ¬†Not the most healthy dish, but here is a healthier spin on it.
  5. And some of these to go with it maybe.

Enjoy your weekend.  Stay Healthy my Friends!

Abs vs. Core.  Which should you be doing?

Who doesn’t want a nice pair of six pack abs? The answer is EVERYONE.  

We have been told forever that they are THE sign of ultimate fitness.  This has made people sooooo six pack crazy that they will do whatever it takes to reach this gold standard of fitness.

But what if having the abs of Zeuss weren’t the sign of godly fitness like we think they are?

A six pack is simply a sign that you have reached a low enough body fat % that you can see your ab muscles.  This is why super skinny people tend to have abs.

See they’re not lieing when they say abs are made in the kitchen.  With the right balance of nutrition and exercise you can have a six-pack.

Our cores are meant for so much more than appearing to be chiseled from stone

Our core had the important job of protecting and stabilizing our spine to keep us upright (posture).  Without our core our spine would fold like a wet napkin.

Our core consists of more muscles than just our abs.  It consists of muscles on the front and backside of our bodies to support the spine from all sides.

 The core consists of the obliques, glutes, and low back.  Basically anything not connected to an arm or leg.

If these muscles are weak it is hard to have good posture.  Good posture keeps our bodies working efficiently, helps elimnate aches and pains, and protects us from injury as we perform movement.

I always find it funny how some of the fittest people I know don’t have a six packs but still tend to be fast, strong and powerful due to their core strength.

This brings us to the age old debate:. What are we really training for?  Looks or function?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below and be sure to follow us for weekly blog posts.

Friday Fit 5 week of 3/17/17

Happy St Patty’s day everyone!!!!!    Get ready to catch me lucky charms!

I have your pot of gold here consisting of the 5 best fitness articles I came across this week.  So grab your shamrocks and your healthy green beverage and let’s get into the Friday Fit 5.

  1. If you want to lose weight and become bulletproof you need to build work capacity.  Dan John gives us some great and easy ways to fire up work capacity.
  2. Having a crap day or just under a lot of stress?  Try exercise.  Here are 10 ways exercise improves your mood.  Number 4 is totally true.
  3. Might have to make these breakfast tacos happen.  
  4. Great video and post from training guru Mike Boyle.
  5. We work hard in the gym to get strong.  Don’t kill those gains with the wrong type of cardio.

    Havea safe and healthy St Patty’s Day

    Do this type of exercise to lose weight

    What kind of exercise are you doing to lose weight? ¬†If you are relying on bicep curls and sit ups to shed the pounds you won’t see much progress. ¬†It’s time you step out of the squat rack with that curl bar, because today you are going to learn the best type of exercise to lose weight.

    lose weight.jpg

    I am not the curl hater I used to be. ¬†In the past year I ¬†have worked everyone’s favorite exercise back into my workout on upper body days.

    For a long time though I hated them.

    Even though I am done drinking the Haterade on them (I believe it was green flavored), I still don’t think that they are the best exercise for weight loss.

    haterade.jpg
    The official beverage of SJGSports Fitness

    No if you want to lose weight you need to be using compound movements

    Compound movements are multi joint movements.  These types of exercises are quite effective for weight loss because they require us to use multiple muscle groups.

    It’s quite a simple formula. ¬†The more muscles required to perform a movement, the more calories we burn.

    A bicep curl only involves movement at one joint, our elbow.

    But what if we improved upon the curl. ¬†Let’s say we made it a curl into an over head press. We now go from working just our biceps, to incorporating not only more muscles, but the bigger muscles such as the shoulder.

    Great examples of compound movements include squats, dead lifts, kettle bell swings, presses, rows, pull ups, lunges, hip bridges, jumps, olympic lifts, crawling, etc.

    The possibilities are almost endless

    One of my favorite fat burning exercises to perform is the clean and press.  This exercise requires us to generate power from the hips, using back and bicep muscles in the pull, as well as our shoulder and tricep muscles in the press.

    This one move strengthens and works your lower body, core and upper body.  Not to mention it will jack your heart rate up pretty quickly giving you that conditioning and endurance factor as well.

    Lot of bang for your buck with this one exercise.

    Give it a try with this workout

    Grab a barbell, dumb bell(s), kettle bell(s), sand bag or whatever you want to clean and press.

    I work out at home and tend to go double kettle bell (double 44s to be exact).

    Every minute on the minute for 10 minutes perform 3-5 reps.  Once reps are completed rest for the duration of the minute.

    Don’t go too heavy. ¬†Trust me by that 6th or 7th minute it will adjust itself.

    If you are feeling really spunky go for 20 minutes and alternate the clean and press with 2-3 strict pull ups.

    Odd minutes: Clean and press

    Even minutes: Strict pull ups

    you end up with 10 rounds of each.

    Simple, yet effective.

    If you still have energy after all that, you are more than welcome to perform your bicep curls.

    Like this article?  Then be sure to follow this blog for more weekly fitness and nutrition tips.  

    Trying to get strong, lose weight and feel great?  I can help you with that.  Click this link to get started.

    Friday Fit 5 week if 3/10/17

     Snowed in like I am today?  Don’t worry I got you covered with these 5 great fitness reads to help you pass the time.

    1. Running is not the best way to lose fat.  Here are 10 exercises better than running to burn fat.
    2. Hilarious video from Jordan Syatt with a unique take on 16 Fitness Myths That Need to Die
    3. Struggling to lose weight?  Well one of these 6 things might be the reason why.  
    4. Massive amounts of Inflammation can wreak havoc on the body and cause discomfort.  Here are a few food you should eat to battle Inflammation.
    5. Who doesn’t live shakes?  They are fast and healthy but may leave you starving shortly after.  Here is how to make your shakes more FILLING.

      There you have it folks.  Stay warm.

      What is concierge training and why it might work for you?

      In case you didn’t know, I am a concierge fitness coach.

      What the hell is that?

      what.jpg

      Simply put I am like the Grub Hub of fitness.

      In this day and age we are all about convenience and tailored service. I mean we have things like Grub Hub that with a touch of a button you can have the food from your favorite restaurant brought right to your door.

      I make fitness more convenient for my clients by training them wherever their heart desires whether it be in person or via the world wide interwebs.  I help you streamline the process that way you can train without the usual hassles.

      Here are some of the ways concierge training can help you:

      Save time

      I know we all have busy schedules these days.  But that is not a good excuse to be out of shape.

      I don’t know about you but I want to spend the little time out of the house as possible. I am on the run so much that I enjoy my downtime at home and want to limit the number of places I have to go to.

      With concierge training ¬†the gym will be one less place you have to include on your list visit. ¬†By me coming to you, you’ll make more time for other things by eliminating the commute back and forth from the gym, along with the stress that can come from dealing with idiots on the road.

      Many of my clients commute to work and have found it convenient to have me show up in the morning, get their workout in, shower, change, and grab a bite as they walk out the door.  Or on the other hand have me waiting for them when they get home from work.

      Feel luxurious

      Who doesn’t love the feeling of being served? ¬†It makes us feel like someone special, like a Kardashian or something (they’re still a thing right?).

      That is why we love going out to eat, because it’s not often that we have someone else do all the work for us and we do we don’t have to lift a finger and it makes our status feel important.

      service

      Getting trained in your own home is another way for you to feel like your status is important, for a reasonable rate.

      With concierge training you won’t have to do anything. ¬†You don’t need to buy equipment, or figure out how to reinvent the fitness wheel on your own. ¬†The only thing you might have to do is breathe hard and sweat.

      Concierge training is like the Burger King of training.  No not in the way of it being cheap junk food.   You do receive quality of training and the service is top notch.

      It’s like Burger King because it’s the type of training “where you can have it your way.” ¬†At the end of the day it’s all based around YOU! ¬†You decide just about everything from where you train and when you want to train.

      Train in a familiar/comfortable environment

      Dorothy was right.  There is no place like home.

      Home is safe, home is comfortable, your home is private.

      Home allows you to go at your own pace without judgement or pressure from what others are doing in the gym. ¬†It let’s us focus on what is right for you to make progress, and not what the flavor of the month routine is.

      Your home is the true “judgement free zone.”

      No wait for equipment

      I love the gym but waiting for equipment sucks. It is very time consuming, adds unnecessary time to our workout, and also can kill the training effect we are going for.

      With concierge training I make sure there is enough equipment for everyone in the session making sessions effective and efficient.

      Develop better discipline

      To get fit you need to build healthy habits.  Building healthy habits requires you to be disciplined and consistent until it becomes second nature.

      Going to the gym is one of these habits we need to build. ¬†It’s all on you to show up to the gym daily. ¬†This makes it very easy ¬†to make up an excuse to skip the gym after a hard day of work or days you just don’t feel like.

      This is easy to do even if you are meeting friends, a trainer, and especially if you train solo.

      With concierge training I come to you. ¬† This makes it tough to make excuses to skip sessions because you don’t feel like it, because no matter what I am coming and the session will get done.

      One of my clients tells me that he hums the Wicked Witch of the West them 10 minutes before I show up because it is inevitable that I will show up and we will work hard.

      Although he dreads the anticipation, he always leaves a happy customer.

      Having me show up takes off some of the responsibility of being disciplined and puts that responsibility on me.

      Fun and creative workouts

      fun

      Concierge training offers freedom.  No one says we are stuck training in the gym, your living room or basement.  Concierge training is all about you.

      I know for me, I love when the weather gets nice enough to come out of hibernation and train outside.  This allows to train in fun and unique places like your backyard, parks, playgrounds, and even the beach.

      This helps make training feel more like playtime, plus we get to work on that tan.

      I mean how cool is it to tell your friends that you trained on the beach? ¬†I’m sure it would make them a bit jealous.

      Workouts are adaptable to any environment and setting, and it goes to show you how the world becomes our gym and that working out can be fun and creative, not a chore.

      In this age of convenience and tailored service concierge training is becoming a more popular way to train.  Give it a try for yourself, I would love to hear about your experience.

      Interested in checking out concierge training for you or somebody you know?  Follow this link to find out how I can help you and to set up your complimentary consultation.

      How to keep your workouts simple and effective (workout included)

      Just got done with my workout on this beautiful day in the Northeast. ¬†I couldn’t resist taking advantage today and do part of my workout outside.

      During my workout I came up with the bright idea of sharing some of my workouts with you. ¬†I always have been a firm believer in the saying “sharing is caring” so here I am sharing my¬†torturous¬†fun¬†ideas¬†with you.

      sharing.jpg

      I love this time of year when I am able to get outside and start being creative with my environment.  The secret to taking advantage is that my program is nothing complicated.  In fact my training is pretty simple and follow the same blue print.

      Warm up

      Prehab

      Strength

      Accessory work

      conditioning

      Stretch

      As my girlfriend pointed out the other night it’s pretty much the same movements every time. ¬†She is right every day I am squatting, pressing and hinging. ¬†At the end of the day consistency is what builds strength.

      I try to include the 7 basic movements of pushing, pulling, squatting, hinging, carrying, twisting, and floor work into each session.

      Although I work the same movements the intensity for each movement changes each workout.  I perform one exercise heavy for low reps, another at medium weight for more reps, and one light for high reps.

      This not only helps hit strength, endurance and hypertrophy for all three, but easily gives me 3 workouts every week, complete with the accessory work consisting of some kind of pull and something to assist the heavy  movement of that workout.

      Every few weeks I change up the movements to prevent adaptation and to keep things fresh.

      Here is my conditioning today, which I was able to do outside.

      It was two simple movements repeated in a ladder for 10 minutes.

      Farmer’s carry and burpees.

      2 great conditioning tools that together will help you work power, strength and endurance. Not to mention will get you breathing hard,  sweaty and burn a ton of fat.

      Simple and effective!

      Give it a try and post your score in the comments.  I suggest for the carries men use between 44-53lbs kbs in each hand while women use 24-35lbs kbs in each hand.  Keep the carries light as we want to get more rounds.

      Be sure to follow us to get a new workout next week.

      Friday Fit 5 week of 3/2/17

      Wow! what a difference a week makes.

        This time last week I was sitting outside enjoying my coffee, then this week wondering why I came out of hibernation.

      Any who enough consuming about the cold; here are the five fittest articles  I found around the interweb this week.

      1. My man Pat Flynn nailed it with this blog post explaining why we shouldn’t sleep on kettlebells to achieve our fitness goals. An entertaining yet enlightening read as always.  
      2. Suffer from Back pain?  This overlooked muscle might be the culprit.  Here are 12 ways to stretch that muscle.  Bonus points if you guess which muscle it is in the comments section.  No peeking.
      3. In case you were wondering, YES breakfast and pizza work very well together.  Now  it is also healthy with this recipe.
      4. Here are 51 great rules not just for our children but for everyone to follow.  27 can be life saving advice
      5. Great article about the why’sabout the why’s (and why nots) of mobility.

      And there is your fit 5 of the week.  Happy weekend!!!!! Train hard!!!

      5 tips to help you stop eating out and start eating healthy

      Proper nutrition is essential if you want to lose weight.  One of the biggest excuses people have for not eating right is the fact they don’t have time to cook a healthy meal.  Eating healthy doesn’t have to be time consuming with these 5 meal prep tips.

      I get it.  I work two jobs, go to school, and play on a rugby team.

      notime.jpg

      This leaves me waking up early and getting home late, with loads of homework and clients in between.  The last thing I want to do when I get home is cook.

      It is very tempting to hit up Uber Eats or Grub Hub after a long day of work.  On top of that, many offices now order lunch for their employees to keep them at their desk.

      But how often are those choices healthy?  Pizza, burgers, Chinese?

      Even the “healthy” choices on the menu, we have no idea what it is cooked in so have no idea if they are actually healthy.

      Eating out all the time, not only is unhealthy, but can get expensive.

      broke.jpg

      I could be wrong but I don’t think you planned on losing weight by lightening your wallet.

      Well with these 5 methods you can still eat healthy while keeping your wallets fat.

      Crock Pot

      crockpot.jpg

      I love the crock pot.  There is nothing better than coming home to a hearty, delicious and healthy meals like stews, pulled pork, wings, ribs and a variety of  soups.

      All you  need to do is prep and season the food.  After that the crock pot does all the work.  The crock pot provides you with the freedom to cook your meal over night or while you are at work.

      The crock pot provides for huge portions leaving plenty of leftovers to cover a couple days of lunch/dinner.

      Mason Jar Salad

      This is a great idea for lunches.  The mason jar is compact making it easy to grab and go.  Best part is everything is portioned out and the seal of the jar helps keep everything fresh.

      Here are 18 different Mason Jar Salads to get you started

      Overnight oats

      Great way to  make an on the go breakfast.  Plain oats are not only filling, but full of fiber.

      Simply prepare the night before and let it sit in the fridge overnight.  Wake up, grab a spoon and walk out the door!

      Here are 50 Overnight Oat recipes to keep your breakfasts fresh

      Shake it up

      Shakes are a great way to make an easy on the go meal.  Shakes help blend many nutrients into one healthy and filling drink.

      My mom has been making these for breakfast for at least 4 years now.

      Her secret is to make a lot that way she has enough for the next day.  This makes it easy for her to grab and go on her way to work in the morning.

      Here is a great recipe from Precision Nutrition

      Be a microwave chef

      chef.jpg

      You don’t have to be an Iron Chef in the kitchen.

      My girlfriend always makes fun of me because when I cook I love using frozen vegetables and meat (like Trader Joe’s Chicken) to make delicious and healthy meals.

      Obviously fresh veggies and meat are preferred but they can take a while to defrost, cut, seed, season and cook.

      Frozen meat and veggies allow me to create healthy meals quickly.  All I need to do is heat them up in the microwave or stove top, combine them, season and have a delicious stir fry, or fajita meal ready to go in minutes.

      At the end of the day  a lot of these methods involve you having leftovers.  If you make one serving think about making 3 or 4.  That way you have leftovers for days and all you have to do is heat it up for lunch or dinner.

      Do you know any  methods to help eat healthy on a busy schedule?  We would love to hear from you.  Let us know in the comments section below.

      Beach season is right around the corner. Get in shape with my online fitness or nutrition coaching services. Just fill out this questionnaire to set up your complimentary consultation.