CORE BLAST WEEK THREE - Back and Abs
AS I write this week, I'm in the middle of pre-holiday extreme admin panic! Yes I'll admit that I'm not always a picture of calm and serenity. Hubby, bump and I are off to explore some Greek Islands in the Athens vicinity on Thursday in order to celebrate our 1st Wedding Anniversary. And wow has it come around quickly. It also reminded me that it's coming up for a year since we all starting blogging. So Happy Anniversary Sweaty Betty Community !
So how's Fit for Free going? There seems to be so much exciting stuff going on, what with guest instructors and the gorgeous new autumn/winter collections - not to mention the arrival of FitFlop boots in store (hoping to pick mine up this week to keep my pregnant toes toasty).
To help you on your fit campaign, it's my third installment of core training.
And whilst I remember, I have a fresh new batch of Pilates courses starting tonight in Canary Wharf. I've a few spaces left (the classes are at 6.15 or 7.30pm) - it's not too late to join in (email me on firstname.lastname@example.org).
Now one of my biggest fitness industry/gym gripes is a general tendency towards abs training to the detriment of back training. This might not seem like a big deal to you but our bodies love balance and we spend most of our lives bent over at computers, again to the detriment of our beautiful backs. I often get participants coming to Pilates who have been told to strengthen their abs by physios and yes, it's important to a degree but what about strengthening those back muscles too.
So rant over ... here are a few of my top Pilates exercises for a super-honed bod that will keep you injury free and beautifully strong from the core.
1. The One Hundred - fabulous for firing up those core abdominals.
- From a neutral position, lying on your back, engage your abdominals and pelvic floor muscles.
- Lift the knees over your hips ensuring your tummy stays flat and the back strong.
- Lift head and shoulders, maintaining a flat tummy (LIFT IS OPTIONAL).
- To make it more challenging straighten legs or ease them away from you.
BREATHING: Hold for ten breaths, breathing in for five pumps and out for five pumps beating the arms as you pump your breath.
2. The Shoulder Bridge - get those glutes, hamstrings and lower back muscles working
- Lying on your back, with your feet at hips width apart, bring your heels in towards your bottom, underneath your knees.
- Slowly curl your tailbone underneath you, pressing your lower back into the floor.
- Peel your spinal vertebra off the floor one at a time until you find a bridge position.
- Hold at the top, being conscious of your glutes working (maybe give them a squeeze) - again, you want to hold a neutral position.
- Slowly roll back down to the floor one vertebra at a time, moving your back like a wheel.
BREATHING: Breathe in to prepare, exhale as you roll.
3. Leg Pull Prone - an all over body workout to get your core fired up - perfect push-up preparation too!
- from an all fours position engage your tummy muscles, ensuring your back is in a neutral position.
- Feel as though your abs are held in towards your back.
- Extend one leg at a time until your holding a plank from your toes.
- Make sure your hands are directly under your shoulders and your back doesn't sag (as shown).
- To make it harder, lift one leg at a time (option pictured).
4. Double Leg Kick - the ultimate antidote to sitting at your desk.
- Lying on your front, rest your head on your hands.
- With your abdominals engaged, squeeze your thighs together and lift the knees from the floor, moving your legs from your hips. Ensure your upper body stays relaxed.
- Roll your shoulders up and back until you feel your shoulder-blades pressing strongly onto your back and the palms facing down.
- Keeping your tummy strong (imagine a belt around your waist) lift the chest from the floor.
- Hold this position feeling very conscious of every muscle in your back working.
- If you want more, lift higher into a bow position.
Enjoy the challenge and let me know how you get on.
Take care Betties and I'll be back to you after my Greek vacation when I hope to be a picture of calm and serenity again!