Get a Strong Core

Next time you’re at the gym, instead of trying to knock out 100 crunches, try these deep core stabilizing exercises instead:

  • Elbow Plank (1 min)

Note: Be sure your shoulders line up directly over the elbows so that no extra pressure is placed on the shoulder joint.  Don’t let your hips drop too low, otherwise you’ll feel it in your lower back.  Don’t make it too easy on yourself by lifting the hips high either though.  Find a good median between the 2.  Also, be sure to breathe. : )

  • Leg Raises (12)

Note:  Keep it slow and controlled so that once you feel your lower back start to arch,  you raise the legs immediately.  If you get to the point where you’re arching, your core is no longer engaged, thus defeating the purpose of the exercise (try alternating legs if this is too challenging).

  • Push Up, Knee In’s (1 min)

Note: Maintain a push up plank while driving the knee towards your chest.  Be sure you exhale as you drive the knee in, and keep your core tight by not letting the hips sink down towards the floor.

Repeat 3 times to complete the circuit.


Tabata Training

Discovered by Dr. Izumi Tabata, Tabata training is said to produce as much muscular endurance as forty five minutes of regular cardio training. This type of training consists of intervals following this structure:

Push hard for 20 seconds
Rest for 10 seconds
Repeat 8 times (total of 4 minutes)

You can do this in sprint/cardio form or incorporate exercises such as push ups, front squats, or burpees to mix it up. Try this Routine:

Set 1: Medicine Ball Slams
Set 2: Push Ups
Set 3: Squat Jumps (or Squats depending on fitness level)

Since this is considered a high intensity workout, you wouldn’t want to do this type of training every day. If you are able to, you’re not doing it correctly because your body should need more time to recover in between training if you’re really pushing yourself to the max like you should be.

I love Tabata training because for one, it’s very time efficient. You can’t beat working hard for 4 minutes and getting the same benefits that you would in a 45 minute cardio session. Also, I love that this can be for anyone from Olympic lifters to weight loss clients. The exercises can be modified for everyone and everyone. Whatever your goals are, this type of training is definitely going to help you meet them so give it a try!

Upper Cross Syndrome

Working at a gym in Chicago’s Loop, I see this everyday.

Upper cross syndrome is typically characterized by rounded shoulders and an excessive forward head lean. It’s a postural imbalance that, in many cases, is the result of spending long periods of time sitting hunched over our computer desks. When in this position, many muscle imbalances are occurring:

Tight/Overactive Muscles: STRETCH
-Pectoralis major/minor
-Anterior deltoid
-Latissimus dorsi
-Upper trapezius
-Levator Scapulae

Weak/Underactive Muscles: STRENGTHEN
-Lower trapezius
-Posterior deltoid
-Serratus anterior
-Teres minor

Postural Dysfunctions lead to muscle imbalances, muscle imbalances lead to improper movement patterns, and improper movement patterns lead to injury SO with that being said, here are a few corrective exercises you can add into your routine to try to avoid this.

Foam Roller Angels- Lay supine on the foam roller with the foam roller vertical to your spine, lower back pressed against foam roller, and arms extended out (palms facing up) at sides. Keeping the back of your palms on the floor, raise your arms up overhead and back down to your sides (as if you were making snow angels). Be sure that your lower back stay pressed down against the foam roller!

Wall V’s- Sit against a wall with your butt, lower back, shoulders, and head pressed against the wall. Bring your arms overhead (elbows bent at a 90 degree angle) so that they are in contact with the wall as well. From here, extend them straight up overhead so that they form a V overhead. Be sure to keep your butt, lower back, shoulders, and head pressed against the wall!

Rear Delt Flys (machine): Sit facing upright so chest is against the pad and feet flat on the ground. Grab the handles, depress the shoulder blades down, and exhale as you pull back