Fitness, Whole Health

Abs, Core and Glutes – what is it?

There are the abs then the core muscles and, finally, the glutes.

Improve your total body health by training these areas of your body.  The results will be increased strength, stability and balance.

What muscles are involved?

The body’s core muscles include:

  • abs (abdominal muscles)
  • back muscles
  • pelvic floor muscles
  • glutes (buttocks)
  • other torso muscles.

What exercises are best for strengthening these muscles?

Planks and plank variations, abdominal bridges, reverse crunches, leg raises, and chin-ups are some good exercises for building the core muscles, the plank being one of the best.  The plank is a simple isometric exercise that can engage more than 20 muscles, including the abs, back, arms, shoulders, glutes, and hamstrings – depending on the variation of plank being   performed.

Planks are a simple exercise that can be done at home, negating the necessity of going to the gym.

There are many variations that include the side plank, forearm plank, hover plank, walking plank, extended plank, Bosu topside plank, single arm plank, plank hip dips,  reverse plank, and (on a stability ball):  plank crunches & plank pike-ups & plank rollouts. 

Planks increase strength along with contouring the obliques and help with posture and physique.

Begin with the two planks variations described below.  Start out holding each move for 20 to 30 seconds at a time, adding a few seconds at each work out.



Prone Plank

  1. Begin by supporting your body weight on just the toes and elbows, resting on the forearms.
  2. Tighten your abs (abdominal muscles) to stabilize the trunk, and rise up.
  3. Keep forearms parallel to each other with hands flat on the ground, or clasped together – whatever works best for you.
  4. Chin should be tucked; maintain good neck alignment with the trunk; keep eye gaze between hands; do not allow trunk to sag or hips to pike up.
  5. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
  6. Slowly lower down, keeping back straight.
  7. Repeat.



Side (oblique) Plank

  1. Lie on your side, bring legs together until heels touch.
  2. Balance body weight on feet and elbow.
  3. Lift your trunk, forming a straight line.
  4. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
  5. Slowly lower trunk.
  6. Repeat.



The Benefits of Exercising on an Elliptical Trainer

Strengthen the Cardiovascular System, Get a Total Body Workout and Burn Lots of Calories.  These are the benefits of exercising on an Elliptical Trainer.

Exercising on an elliptical greatly reduces excessive pressure on the joints while providing for a beneficial cardiovascular workout. In addition to exercising the heart, the elliptical works the muscles in the lower body:

  • thigh muscles (quadricep & hamstring)
  • gluteal muscles (buttocks)
  • hip flexors (located at the front of the hips); help to bring the thigh toward the chest.

You can get a low or high intensity workout by adjusting the speed, resistance and stride length on the elliptical while decreasing the possibility of injuries along with exerting the leg muscles and heart.  Speed up your pulse and heart rate on the elliptical.  Going in reverse on the elliptical works well too. Stepping in a backward motion works the gluteals, calves and hamstrings, while stepping forward works the quadriceps.

It is important to change up your workout routine. Variety during exercise will:

  • keep your body from getting used to a single movement
  • promote the build up of muscle mass
  • continue the boost to metabolism.

By going “hands-free” (not using the railings on the elliptical trainer) you will improve your balance and posture.

Stand up straight when on the elliptical to lengthen the abs and engage the core. Keep the abs (abdominal muscles) tight.  Use the arm levers to work both the upper and lower body at the same time. Keep the shoulders back and head up. Look forward, not down at your feet, let the lower body support your weight. Do not lean on machine armrests during exercise (that will reduce the calorie burn).

Don’t forget about interval training (see the related blog on this website). To do intervals on the elliptical you may either:

  • maintain the resistance and increase pace (go fast for 1 minute then recover at a slower pace for 2 to 4 minutes)


  • maintain your speed and increase the resistance (high resistance for 1 minute then recover for 2 to 4 minutes at a more comfortable resistance).

You can burn up to 400 calories in a 30 minute workout while exercising on the elliptical. It provides for a heart-healthy, aerobic exercise.  It is a good exercise option because it burns lots of calories in a short amount of time and is low impact.

As with any exercise, consult your physician before using elliptical equipment.


Tighten your Abs (Abdominal muscles)

Abdominal muscles (Abs) provide support to maintain posture and participate in breathing process especially during exhale (when they help force air out of the lungs by depressing the thorax).

When exercised they can be defined by the 6-pack ab effect (Rectus Abdominis).  The deeper muscles (close to the spine) have the most effect on posture and help to maintain a healthy back (Transverse Abdominis).

The Oblique muscles that run along the sides of the torso/trunk (external & internal) work to rotate the trunk/torso and (bend) flex the spine, along with maintaining posture.

You do not need to go to the gym or need much equipment to exercise the Abs.  Described below are a few routines that, when consistently practiced, will work and build these muscles.


TrunkAbCurlFAbdominal Curl on Fit Ball (eccentric exercise)

  1. Sit on the fit ball.
  2. With stomach muscles tightened slowly lower your trunk parallel to the floor.
  3. Hold this position for 3 – 5 seconds.
  4. Do decrease intensity place hands by hips.


TrunkTwistF  Trunk Twist

  1. Tighten the Abs.
  2. Twisting at the waist, rotate upper body from side to side.  Be sure to keep the back straight.
  3. Do this 10 – 12 times.


SideBendCrunchSide Bend Crunch with Dumbbell

  1. Grasping a dumbbell (or bag of rice from the kitchen), tighten abs.
  2. Bend to the side as shown.
  3. Do this 8 – 10 times.
  4. Repeat on other side.


ReverseCrunchF  Reverse Crunch

  1. On your back, bring knees  to a 90 degree angle.
  2. Tighten abs.
  3. Bring hips up (curl hips) so that lower back lifts up off the floor.
  4. Do this 6 – 8 times.


CrunchBentLegF  Bent Leg Crunch Twist

  1. On your back, bend legs and tighten abs.
  2. Raise upper body and one (1) bent leg.
  3. Twist touching the opposite elbow to the knee of the raised leg.
  4. Alternate sides
  5. Do this 8 – 10 times for each leg.


FitBallTrunk ExtensionFDouble Leg Bridge with Fit Ball (eccentric exercise)

  1. On your back, place your feet on Fit Ball.
  2. Lift hips off floor; squeeze buttocks (glutes).
  3. Slowly lower hips for 3-5 seconds.
  4. Do 8-10 reps; 3 sets.
  5. For an easier version of this exercise use a BOSU ball (instead of Fit Ball).


ObliqueAbPlankFOblique Side Plank – Lowering (eccentric exercise)

  1. Lie on your side with your feet and elbow touching the floor.
  2. Lift you torso / trunk so that only your elbow and foot are touching the floor.
  3. Slowly lower your trunk for 3-5 seconds.
  4. Do 6-8 reps.
  5. Repeat on other side.


JackKnifeCrunchF  Jack Knife Crunch/Sit-Up

  1. Tighten Abs while laying on the floor.
  2. Using the strength from your abs, simultaneously raise upper body and legs forming a “V”.
  3. Reach to touch ankles or feet.
  4. Repeat 6-8 times.
  5. Rest, then do another set.


PlankFProne Plank (eccentric exercise)

  1. In the prone position Tighten / Pull in abs to stabilize your trunk.
  2. Raise up on toes and elbow.
  3. Slowly lower downward without arching back.
  4. Do 8-10 of these.
  5. Rest; do another set.


1-LegStandSingle Leg Stand (Trunk Flexion)

  1. Stand on one leg.
  2. Bend forward from the hips.
  3. Touch the floor (if possible).
  4. Hold 5-7 seconds.
  5. Return to upright, keeping back straight and leg bent.
  6. Hold 5-7 seconds.
  7. Repeat on other leg.






Rapid Fat Burn with Circuit Training

What Is Circuit Training?

Circuit training is a programmed series of body conditioning exercises set on a specific course. Weight training and aerobics work well for this purpose. The time between exercises in the circuit is short; move rapidly the next exercise. After completion of the prescribed circuit, repeat it starting at the first exercise. Continue to repeat the circuit until the set amount of time is up.

Since each exercise station changes up the muscle group being worked, no rest is needed when moving between sets of exercises. The exercises are performed in rapid repetitions which raises heart rate. When the heart rate is boosted lots of calories are burned. When done with the session, calories will continue to be consumed for a few hours more.

You decide what exercises to include in the series. The course can be quite simple or complex, whatever suits your needs. A typical circuit should work each section of the body. An example circuit is described below.

#1. Run in place as quickly as possible. Pump arms while moving legs. Easier:  slow down or march in place. More difficult:  raise knees higher (to chest). Do this Warm-Up for 2 minutes only at the beginning of circuit session.


#2.  Bench Dip:  Keeping elbows close to sides, lower body almost to floor.  Then press upward until arms are straight.  Easier:  Knees bent and feet flat on the floor. More difficult:  Straighten legs; put feet on chair in front. Do 10 reps per set.


#3Crunch – Bent Knee:  Lay on back, knees bent, arms straight at sides. Keep head & neck in line with spine, tighten abs. Raise shoulders & upper back toward ceiling. Low / middle back & arms stay on floor. Do 15 reps per set.

CrunchBent Knee

#4.  Full Squat: Head is up; back is straight; feet are pointed slightly out. Squat until backs of thighs touch calves. (Easier: thighs parallel to floor). Keep abs tight; balance weight on heels. Adjust arm position for balance. Do 10 reps per set.


#5Wall Push Away:  Facing wall, place hands (fingers up) on wall about shoulder width apart. With body straight, elbows up and heels on floor, lean into wall. Hold position for 4 seconds, then push away using arms. Do 15 reps per set.

WallPush Away

#6Crunch Twist:  With legs bent, tighten abs & raise upper body and 1 leg. Twist to touch opposite elbow to raised knee. Alternate sides. Do 15 reps per set.


#7Lunge:  With feet hip width apart, step into a deep forward lunge. Front knee should be aligned with ankle; back knee pointing to the floor. Push back leg to straight keeping rear knee raised.  Hold this position for 7-10 seconds. Repeat with other leg.  Perform the lunge 10 times for each leg.


#8Standing Bend:  Stand with feet together and reach overhead with palms touching. Bend body to one side as fa as possible. Repeat on other side. Do this Cool Down Stretch only at the end of circuit session.