This short Core Fusion class from Exhale Spa will keep you moving. There are over 20 exercises in the 10-minute workout! Tone your arms, legs, and core while burning some serious calories when you press play.
I've been working on strengthening my core with my trainer, Tim Rich, at Crunch Gym. He recommended a do-anywhere exercise that is anything but easy but will definitely help strengthen your ab muscles. The move, called the split crunch, uses your leg positioning to modify a normal run-of-the-mill crunch. The result? An ab-killing exercise that you can fit in anytime.
- To start, lie on your back, making sure your abs are engaged and your spine is neutral. Read these tips for proper back form when doing the Pilates, The Hundred — just like in the classic Pilates move, when doing the split crunch your belly button should be pulled in toward your spine.
- Next, straighten both your legs to a 90-degree angle from your torso, feet parallel to the floor with soles facing the ceiling (see picture above). Put your hands behind your ears — not the back of your head or neck, or you may risk straining your neck as you do the move — and pull your chin in toward your chest, fixing your gaze on your belly button.
Ready to go? Read on for the rest of the split crunch move.
Just because chunky sweaters are all the rage this Fall, you need to mind your waist. Especially as we enter the
eating holiday season. While it is unfortunately true that you cannot spot reduce your love handles, venturing into the realm of side planks can help you tone your muffin top. Remember, the stronger your core the longer and harder you can run, dance, ski, and ride. Check out my fave variations on the side plank — exercises are listed in order of increasing difficulty.
In my experience, if the word "power" appears in the title of a fitness class, be it yoga or weight lifting, be prepared for a challenging workout. My expectations were in no way dashed when I tried Power Pilates at Sports Club LA recently. This was definitely a Pilates mat class on steroids. Classic moves like the 100s and single leg stretch definitely made an appearance, but only after many, many upper ab cruches. The class featured high repetitions, which is not common in traditional Pilates classes. The class began using a ballet barre for moves reminiscent of the Dailey and Bar methods, and then moved into a twisting lunge sequence away from the support of the bar. The instructor called this challenging exercise series, which worked the obliques and the glutes, part of her "muffin top project."
We used the old-school magic circle, a classic Pilates prop also known as a toning ring, for both arm work and leg work. Push-ups with a wide variety of hand positions peppered the class. And these weren't careless and quick push-ups, but the slow, painful, methodical kind.
I really enjoyed the class and appreciated the challenge. It's nice to see Pilates concepts, like alignment and deep ab engagement, meld with more traditional moves from toning and sculpting classes. Two days post-class, my abs and glutes are still feeling the challenge. Have you tried a Power Pilates class? Share your opinion below.
Photo courtesy of Pilates Unlimited
In Summer, both daily and weekly schedules get all out of whack and the lack of structure leaves me feeling uncentered. To combat my emotional unease, I have added a little ab and core work to my morning routine. I am strengthening my physical center, hoping it translates to my mental life. First, I warm up my spine and follow up with some easy ab and back exercises — heel taps in neutral spine, hip-ups (aka reverse crunches), classic crunches, superman — ending with a few elbow planks. While ab work will never replace my morning coffee, I do like starting the day feeling a little stronger and much more connected to my core. Try it tomorrow and see how you feel.
Side planks are a great way to work your core, but why not add a twist to spice things up. Adding any kind of motion to a side plank is a serious balance challenge and any time you twist the torso you will be working your obliques and toning the sides of your torso. This move will help you tone your entire torso, not to mention work your shoulders. Needless to say, I love this move.
Details on how to do this variation on the side elbow plank, when you read more
In a perfect world, we could work hard, play hard, and stay injury-free. Since the world isn't perfect, you need to "prehab." Prehab is like rehab, except you take care of the weakness or imbalance before it develops into a serious problem. For runners, a lot of prehab is about strengthening the core. When the abs and the low back are weak, a tired runner begins to move inefficiently, both wasting energy and creating bad body mechanics which evolve into overuse injuries. These injuries can seriously interfere with your training (read "no running for a couple of months or more"). Hopefully, I have gotten your attention — fear tactics sometimes do work.
You need to work some core exercises into your fitness routine. Try to do at least two to four core exercises three times a week. Before your next run, I suggest that you warm up your core with some toe taps in neutral spine, and your low abs with a few reverse crunches. A strong core isn't just essential for runners. Everyone from cyclists to swimmers, from hikers to stair climbers, from gardeners to mothers of wily toddlers can benefit and avoid injury by having a strong core.
If you run, consider rolling out your IT band on the outside of your leg and stretching the soles of your feet as other forms of prehab. So what are you waiting for? Get busy strengthening yourself — drop and give me two 30-second elbow planks.
I would say that the names of Pilates exercises and equipment are not really known for their poetry. Joe Pilates was German after all, so there's really a no nonsense approach to much of Pilates. My favorite factoid was that he referred to his work as Contrology. You know, like the study of control.
The first piece of equipment Pilates designed was the Reformer and it is my favorite piece to workout on because it is so dang versatile. You can work out every muscle of your body with this one machine.
Many different companies make Reformers, but my favorite is by Balanced Body - the wood frame makes it look almost homey. If you have enough room in your place to house this machine that is the size of a single bed, than you can hopefully afford the cost. It retails at $3195.
Basically, the carriage moves against spring resistance - there are five springs with different tensions creating an infinite amount of possible weights to work with.
For Footwork, the most basic exercise on the Reformer, you lie with your back on the carriage, put your feet on the foot bar and just push yourself out and control yourself back in.
You can put your feet in the loops (at the end of the ropes) to work your legs. Or attach handles to the ends of the ropes to work your arms. Standing on the machine and moving the carriage really challenges your sense of balance and your core. Ahhh...so many variations, so little time.
To see some of my favorite moves you can do on the Reformer read more