Hard “core” Challenge

Hard “core” Challenge

Facebook is awesome for bringing people together and sharing information.  But sometimes that can go array when random fitness challenges pop up that barely do anything.  Nowhere is this truer than the 30-day ab challenges.  Have you ever seen them?  They are almost always filled with the same old boring exercises.  Crunches, sit-ups, leg lifts, russian twists, etc.  Whatever your opinion of those is, there is a better way to crush your core that will get you:

  • Strong as Hell
  • Look Better
  • Super Functional

For starters, you want your program to have exercises that are going to force your core to do what it’s supposed to, which is resist movement.  You also want to throw in some movements that may be unconventional.  This will make for a rock solid core and a rock star mover.

Basic Anatomy

Think of your abdominal muscles like a cylinder or a box. You have your front (rectus “the six pack”), your sides (oblique), the back (multifidus/erectors, QL), top (diaphragm) & bottom (pelvic floor).  When put together, they have the ability to resist movement in all three planes.

core

However, your basic “ab challenge” targets really only one plane, one movement, and really one muscle (rectus).   For good reason I would imagine.  That muscle burn that tells you that you might actually be doing something.  But alas, you’re likely doing nothing that will expose your abs to the world.  So it’s time for a new challenge that at the end, will do so much more for you.

Where do we start?

Anti-Core

  • Anti-Flexion– Odds are you are already doing these if your squatting or deadlifting. And if you’re not, then what are you waiting for.  Besides the enormous benefit to your core, those 2 exercises are guaranteed to make you more of a badass.  You should be doing these already.
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Squat
  • Anti-Extension– The most well-known exercise is the plank. But those get boring really quick.  So there are a bunch of other exercises that fit right into this.  Take your plank up a notch by doing RKC planks instead.  With these, you want to isometrically pull your elbows and toes together.  This will force just about every muscle in your body to work.  Add in rollouts and deadbug variations for more anti-extension exercises.
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Deadbug
  • Anti-Lateral Flexion– These exercises force you to not bend to the side. Side plank is probably the most common example you’ll see, but suitcase holds and vertical Pallof presses also fit the bill.
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Side Plank
  • Anti-Rotation– A great exercise for anyone, but especially athletes that use rotation in their sport. Or even those weekend warrior softball teams.  Examples that you might see in the gym include Pallof Presses, Chops, & Lifts.
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Anti Rotation Upward Lift

Unconventional Core

  • Crawls– Crawls are amazing and there are so many ways to crawl. Forward, backward, sideways.  But no matter what direction you want to crawl in, you want to be able to control it.  Meaning control your hips!  Bear Crawls, Beast Crawls, Crab Walks and Ape crawls all add something more to your workout.

 

 

  • Carries– These can develop full body strength when you go as heavy as possible. Using a variety of tools, you can do combinations of Farmers Carry, Suitcase Carry, Yoke, Stone/Medball Carry, Overhead Carry, and many more.
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Loaded Carries
  • Sled Drags- The sled is a great piece of equipment for conditioning, but did you know you can train your core at the same time. Heavy forward sled drags, backward drags and lateral drags all force your core to work while you’re moving.
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Drags
  • Turkish Get-Up– This is basically a one stop shop when it comes to core training. If you’ve never done these before, take the time to learn how to do them, and then add them into your program.  The control necessarily will totally break a sweat.

 

The Program

Each day on the program is going to start with Stuart McGill’s Big 3 along with my Big 1.  Bird/Dog, Side Plank, Curl-up, and Deadbugs will make up your warm-up.  Each week, you’ll add 5 reps to these drills to ensure you’re creating a stable spine.

After that, I want you to pick 2 “Anti” exercises and 2 unconventional exercises. Much like the 4 exercises above, you’ll increase one variable, be it load, distance, time, or reps each week.  At the end of the month you should have altered all 4 variables in some way.

One other note is the recovery I want you to take every 4 days where you work on mobility and breathing.  Yea, breathing.

 

Day 1

Bird/Dog x 5ea

Deadbug x5ea

Curl-up x 5

Plank x5

Day 2

Bird/Dog x 5ea

Deadbug x5ea

Curl-up x 5

Plank x5

Day 3

Bird/Dog x 5ea

Deadbug x5ea

Curl-up x 5

Plank x5

Day 4

Bird/Dog x 5ea

Deadbug x5ea

Curl-up x 5

Plank x 5

Day 5

Rest Day

Breathing Drill

Day 6

Bird/Dog x 5ea

Deadbug x5ea

Curl-up x 5

Plank x5

Day 7

Bird/Dog x 5ea

Deadbug x5ea

Curl-up x 5

Plank x 5

Day 8

Bird/Dog x 10ea

Deadbug x10ea

Curl-up x 10

Plank x 10

Day 9

Bird/Dog x 10ea

Deadbug x10ea

Curl-up x 10

Plank x 10

Day 10

Rest Day

Breathing Drill

Day 11

Bird/Dog x 10ea

Deadbug x10ea

Curl-up x 10

Plank x 10

Day 12

Bird/Dog x 10ea

Deadbug x10ea

Curl-up x 10

Plank x 10

Day 13

Bird/Dog x 10ea

Deadbug x10ea

Curl-up x 10

Plank x 10

Day 14

Bird/Dog x 10ea

Deadbug x10ea

Curl-up x 10

Plank x 10

Day 15

Rest Day

Breathing Drill

Day 16

Bird/Dog x 15ea

Deadbug x15ea

Curl-up x 15

Plank x 15

Day 17

Bird/Dog x 15ea

Deadbug x15ea

Curl-up x 15

Plank x 15

Day 18

Bird/Dog x 15ea

Deadbug x15ea

Curl-up x 15

Plank x 15

Day 19

Bird/Dog x 15ea

Deadbug x15ea

Curl-up x 15

Plank x 15

Day 20

Rest Day

Breathing Drill

Day 21

Bird/Dog x 15ea

Deadbug x15ea

Curl-up x 15

Plank x 15

Day 22

Bird/Dog x 15ea

Deadbug x15ea

Curl-up x 15

Plank x 15

Day 23

Bird/Dog x 20ea

Deadbug x20ea

Curl-up x 20

Plank x 20

Day 24

Bird/Dog x 20ea

Deadbug x20ea

Curl-up x 20

Plank x 20

Day 25

Rest Day

Breathing Drill

Day 26

Bird/Dog x 20ea

Deadbug x20ea

Curl-up x 20

Plank x 20

Day 27

Bird/Dog x 20ea

Deadbug x20ea

Curl-up x 20

Plank x 20

Day 28

Bird/Dog x 20ea

Deadbug x20ea

Curl-up x 20

Plank x 20

Day 29

Bird/Dog x 20ea

Deadbug x20ea

Curl-up x 20

Plank x 20

Day 30

Rest Day

Breathing Drill

 

 


Half Kneeling to Tall Kneeling

WHY KNEELING EXERCISES?

Half Kneeling Lift
Half Kneeling Lift with a ViPR

 

Providing a stability stimulus in the tall-kneeling and half-kneeling exercise variations offers the base for core development.  Everything starts in the core, so it makes sense to utilize exercise selection to adhere to these baselines. Though non-sexy, the tall-kneeling and half-kneeling exercise variations pack a punch full of benefits.

Besides the intensity, reps, sets, rest periods and frequency (among others), you can change the base of support. Change your positioning.

When it comes to exercise selection, most are either standing, lying, or sitting (especially if you love machines). A squat becomes harder when you change your stance and do split squats. It brings a host of stability issues into play.

Looking for a new way to challenge your exercises? This is the change of pace for you.

USE YOUR KNEES AS A BASE OF SUPPORT

Switching your exercises to tall or half-kneeling positions introduces a whole new dynamic to your workout.

At this point, it changes the focus to core stability throughout the exercise. Each position brings its own specific dynamic, however both require you to “stay up tall,” and create tension in your glutes and abs.

The tall-kneeling and half-kneeling positions expose the lack of symmetry between left and right sides.

Most people are only comfortable using one side of their body, or more comfortable turning to one side; ask any rotational athlete, such as a golfer or baseball player.

Let’s get more personal. Take a look at yourself and your own training. You most likely have a preference as to which side you use to press, pull or rotate, or perhaps a side that feels stronger or more capable.

Check out the rest of the awesome content at Mobility101.com


Sprinters and Runners: Improve Your Arm Mechanics

The devil is in the details. Your greatest improvements are going to come from the little things you do in preparation. When it comes to sprinting, the “little things” are the technical aspects of a race—most notably arm swing.  When we look at sprinting, it’s easy to focus on stride length and stride frequency because they play leading roles in being fast. Bottom line: it’s about the amount of force you can put into the ground and how often you do it. It’s a simple equation, so it’s no wonder that building explosive leg strength is a huge component of weight training programs for sprinters. But becoming stronger is only part of the overall picture.

One of the most overlooked areas, especially for beginners, is the arm swing. It’s a huge factor in a sprint race. When you sprint, you need to get full range of motion from your arms. The amount of force you can generate from your arms, especially out of the blocks, largely determines how well you explode off the line and how fast you are ultimately able to run.

As I mentioned before, stride length and frequency are huge components of sprinting, but both are in part determined by the motion of the arms. The faster the arms go, the faster the legs go. Being lazy with your arms limits your ability to generate speed. So don’t ignore the minute details.

 

Head over to Stack.com for a awesome video demoing the drills, and for the complete article.


Upgrade your Workout

Have you ever played any RPG games? Something like World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy? They can be addictive once you get into them.

The quest to get better is never ending in these types of games. Whether it’s how strong your attacks are or learning a new skill, the goal is the same – to get better, to level up.

Your workout is no different
Most people in the gym are looking for new ways to upgrade their workout, to level up so to speak. We get stuck in a loop of doing the same program over and over again and we eventually hit a plateau.

Every workout or program works… until it doesn’t. Then you have to change some variables so that the body adapts again.

Your body is an amazing organism. It can adapt to almost any situation.

If you put stress on it, eventually it will adapt and get stronger along that pathway of stress. Maybe you’ve hit a plateau, or just want something new. No matter what, there are ways that you can upgrade your workout.

 

Head on over to Watchfit.com for the rest of this article.


Try This Bulgarian Split Squat Variation

The traditional Bulgarian Split Squat is one of those exercises that looks like it won’t confer many benefits for your training, but it can contribute to many characteristics athletes need in their sport. This variation of the Bulgarian Split Squat is a play on the Hatfield Squat, created by “Dr. Squat,” Fred Hatfield. His programming, on his way toward squatting 1,000 pounds, made the safety squat bar famous. He did so by doing hand-assisted Squats, among other things.

The hand-assisted technique allows you to keep your form in check, but also push yourself past the weakest point of your Squat. If and when you struggle to get through your weak point, your hand hold gives you the safety to spot yourself and finish the rep. This results in bigger strength gains, since you can push maximum amounts of weight.

The awesome thing about the hand assist is that it’s simple to translate to a Bulgarian Split Squat. This will no doubt lead to greater strength gains unilaterally.

The Safety Squat Bar is an amazing tool to have in your gym. Using it for Bulgarian Split Squats can take your single-leg training and strength to the next level. Adding the hand assist will take it even further and push you toward greatness.

Head over to Stack.com for the full article and an even cooler video!!