RSS Feed

Tag Archives: obliques

Strengthening and Shaping for the Lazy

I like easy strengthening exercises.  I’m lazy and a procrastinator who will build up what she needs to do to epic proportions in her mind, psyching herself out of doing any work at all.

I have not done yoga or pilates, or any sort of strengthening exercises for months.  (I can blame it on the Holidays, but, well, ok I’ll blame it on the holidays.)  Over the past 2 weeks I’ve been back working on the weight machines at the gym to strengthen without the pressure of not falling over during yoga or Pilates.  I just started to see and feel results this past week so I figured I’d try my hand at some floor moves.  Anyone who says yoga and Pilates are easier than pumping iron are DEAD WRONG.  Ok, maybe it’s relative to your own body weight vs. weights on the machine.  I’ve got some lbs. on me, so lifting 20 pound weights to work my shoulders on a machine is kids play opposed to holding my body weight up in some Pilates moves.  Personally, I prefer floor work over the weight machines since machines isolate specific muscles and yoga/Pilates work all the stabilizing muscles as well as main muscles.  I like a full body workout!

I also strongly procrastinate working on my core.  I know it’s necessary to work your middle to feel your strongest, and once my middle has gained strength I think “why did I ever stop doing this!?”  So, I attempted some new and seemingly easy core work to keep my waistline slim (I like to accentuate the hourglass) and strengthen at the same time.  I threw in some glute work and yoga as well.  These exercises took me about 30 minutes, but you can easily shorten it by picking and choosing your own routine.  Thank you Pinterest!

1. I started with about 15 minutes of Yoga to “warm up”.  I put that in quotes because Yoga is more than a warm up, it’s a great strengthening medium in addition to Pilates.

core1

2.  Laying your back seems easy right?  I tried these Alternating Single-Leg Glute Bridges to work both the glutes and Hamstrings before heavily working on my core.  Hot damn, they were my least favorite exercise of this series so I’m glad I got them out of the way first.  And let me tell you, I have strong glutes.  I’d probably save this for Intermediate workouts.

core2

3. My planks, which engage the core muscles, are not very strong so a moving plank exercise seemed up my alley to build up stamina.  I rather enjoyed the Wide Leg Plank as it was challenging but not impossible. I was able to do 3 sets of 10, definitely feeling the burn by the end.  For more waist slimming exercises, click on the image.

core3

4. I love working my obliques…especially in slight and easy exercises. The Side Bridge and Oblique V-Up are now two of my new favorite exercises because at the time I felt like I was doing nothing but today my sides are SORE. I did 3 sets of 10 for each.  That’s my kind of exercise!

core5

Oblique V-Up

Lie on your side with your body in a straight line. Fold your arms across your chest. Keeping your legs together, lift them off the floor as you raise your top elbow toward your hip. The range of motion is short, but you should feel an intense contraction in your obliques.

10 repetitions each side

core45. I of course ended with the Corpse Pose because THAT is the lazy lady’s favorite Yoga move. I end all of my routines in this relaxing and meditative pose. Sometimes I fall asleep…

corpse

Today is the day after this workout, and I feel just the right amount of soreness in my core muscles.  That is encouraging and makes me want to continue with new exercises on a regular basis to keep the core strong without obsessing.  Variety is key!  I’m a victim of routine and I need to force myself out of my comfort zone to keep myself interested in body maintenance as well as work some new muscles.

If you’d like to try yoga at home with some help from a professional, check out this great series of Kris Fondran’s ShapeShifter Yoga videos!  Kris Fondran has been teaching and practicing yoga for more than 12 years. Her yoga experience and her Master’s degree in Exercise Science make her one of the top experts on yoga and fitness today. Click through the image below to read more about it!

product-group

Advertisements

Coring is not so boring.

I am the kind of person who likes to see results right away, otherwise I feel like that 1 whole hour of hard work is not paying off.  I blame it on being a Generation X’er.  I’ve tried to dismiss that mindset throughout my wellness journey and more importantly over these past 2 weeks.  About a month ago I hit a wall.  To change this feeling of not moving forward, I’ve made it a point to focus on a new regiment, eat when I’m hungry, snack on healthy stuff when i’m not so hungry, and not beat myself up if the scale fluctuates.  I also recently joined an affordable 24 hour privately owned gym, Urge Fitness, 3 blocks from my house with state of the art equipment and unlimited classes so there is NO EXCUSE not to work out!

I’ve been focusing on my core/abs in addition to lifting weights regularly again.  Historically, I’m the worst at regularly working my core area even though it’s the most important area to focus on and strengthen.  I usually bitch and moan and complain to anyone trying to help me, saying that it’s too difficult, it hurts my back, and I don’t want to “bulk up” my middle.  I realized today that those were pretty lame excuses to not work hard and in fact, my back has never felt better.  This is a pretty sad realization since I’ve always known that a strong core helps alleviate back pain and help with posture.  I was just too lazy and too impatient to put in the time.  In addition, over these past weeks my abs and other core muscles have never felt stronger which is surprisingly a more rewarding feeling than slimming down my mid section. Who knew!??  

I’ve focused on very basic core/ab exercises (crunches, side reach heel touches, lower abdominal leg lifts, kettle bell swings) in preparation for the hard “core” techniques of today (bridges, planks, twists, thrusts!).  I only recently started doing kettle bell swings (pictured below) which have become my new obsession.  I feel they have made a HUGE difference in my overall strength and I use a very low weight kettle bell.  Just look at all the muscles one single exercise can help strengthen!

kettlebellswing1MuscleAnatomyKettleBellSwing

If you google “Core Exercises” a slew of results pop up.   I’m still not at the point where I can hold a plank or bridge for 30 seconds, but I have finally attempted to at least try.  That is a HUGE deal for me!  After laying the ground work with beginner exercises, I finally feel well prepared to start trying more intense core techniques.  Core exercises are very intimidating to a larger woman like myself who has a lot more weight to hold up than the average sized human.   I’ve set a goal for myself to be able to hold a plank (without and then with arm raise) or lateral bridge for more than 2.3 seconds over the next couple of weeks.  Not so surprisingly, I can rock the Glute Bridge like no other.  I will then add different intense core exercises over the course of the next couple of months.

core exercises

For me, 2 weeks seems to be the point of clarity.  When I stick to a routine for at least that amount of time, I can start to see and/or feel small results that make me feel like the sweat, pain, and frustration over the past weeks wasn’t for naught.  In addition to my lower back pain being practically nonexistent due to my core work and religious stretching routine, I’ve felt my muscles responding to the weight training.  I feel stronger, I feel definition, and I feel that the weight I’ve gained is healthy and not worth getting depressed about when the scale numbers creep upward.

If you have lower back pain and it’s not due to a bulging disc or any other medical condition (as always check with your health care physician) take a gander at these Princeton University Athletic Medicine exercises and stretches.  I plan to try some new techniques and the page categorize them ranging from easy/medium/difficult.  I also came across core exercises geared specifically towards runners and thought it could be of use to some of my friends and followers.

All this being said, I do not want a 6-pack.  I do not want to look like a body builder.  I just want to feel strong and healthy and fill out a nice pair of jeans.

My Saturday 1.5 Hour Gym Visit

This morning I woke up without excessive muscle pain but enough ache to know I did some good work at the gym yesterday!  Yesterday was a lazy overcast day but eventually I was able to drag myself away from my two adorable cuddly cats to get to the gym and burn off some of this anxiety I’ve been feeling lately.  I was unable to get to the gym during the work week, but instead chose to do yoga in the evenings when possible, also hoping to help with this very emotionally exhausting week.  It helped a little, but I am bummed I wasn’t able to make an effort to at least spend a half hour or an hour at the gym at least once for weight training and intense cardio.

Instead of beating myself up about it, I made it a point to get to the gym this weekend for a low impact workout since it’s a new beginning for me as far as resurrecting my gym routine.  For those who may be curious as to what I did this weekend when time was not so much an issue, here is Saturday’s routine.

  1. 30 minute elliptical for cardio
  2. 30 minute weight machine rotation for strengthening
  3. 10 minute ab work for core strengthening and sculpting
  4. 20 minute stretching and non-machine strengthening for cool down

ELLIPTICAL

  • Ran 25 minutes on level 12 with a 5 minute cool down.
  • My ultimate goal is 45 minutes 3-4x per day alternating different programs and increasing level tension over time.

WEIGHTS
I normally do 3 sets of 12 reps using low weights that still tired my muscles by the third rep for each exercise listed below, resting a couple of minutes between sets. The amount of weight you decide to start lifting depends on many factors, please ask a trainer at the gym before trying to lift 200 pounds your first, or even second, try.

Click on each image below to be taken to another website for more detailed exercise instructions.

  • Back

              Rear Deltoid Flies: targets posterior deltoid, secondary rhomboids, trapezius, triceps

Machine-Rear-Deltoid-Fly

             Lower Back Extension: targets lumbar, secondary glutes

Machine-Lumbar-Extension

  • Chest

             Seated Chest Presses: targets pectorials, secondary deltoid and triceps

chest presses

  • Glutes/Legs

             Seated Leg Press: Targets quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Added padded toe raises that targets your calves.

Inclined-seated-one.legged-press.Leg-press

Leg Press

calf lifts

calf lifts

  • Shoulders

             Lateral Raise: targets deltoids.

machine-lateral-raise

AB WORK

  • Main abdominals
  1. Basic Crunches: 2 reps of 25, targets all abdominal muscles.abdominal_crunch
  2. Abdominal Leg lifts: 2 reps of 25, targets lower abdominals

    core leg lift

  • Obliques
  1. Broom Stick Trunk Twists, 50 twists with 12 lb. barjorge_broomstick_twist
  2. Side Reaches: 2 sets of 25, lift up engaging your obliques and reach towards your feet from side to side.

side touches

STRETCHING AND STRENGTHENING

I love to stretch!  I stretch whenever I can throughout the day, at work, at home, before bed, in the morning.  I’m sure I look completely ridiculous, but the feeling of a good stretch trumps embarrassment by passersby. Stretching at the end of my gym routine is a blissful experience.

  • Pigeon stretch: targets glutes, piriformis, and helps loosen tight hips (an ongoing issue of mine).pigeon
  • Lumbar Extension stretch: targets lumbar spine and abdominals.Lumbar-Extension-Stretch-WEB
  • Sitting Side Reach stretch: targets areas of your abs, back, and legs.

side reach stretch

  • Side Leg Lifts: 25 reps each leg, targets abductor muscles, glutes, and hips.  This is my back to basics Jane Fonda move. Side-Lying-Leg-Lift

    jane fonda

  • Cat Stretches: 25 slow reps, targets lower back and abdominals.

cat stretches

mew. :3

photo by James Hamilton

photo by James Hamilton

%d bloggers like this: