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.

 

plank1

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.

 

plank2

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.

 

Fitness

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)

OR

  • 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.