Core Strength

Hi friends, happy Friday!

How was the week that went by? I am sure, went good.

Good for me too. I have soft-launched the first product from my ”Nutrition-Range”- a clean and delicious chocolate cake (available in all kinds of options – vegan, eggless, gluten-free etc.) and I hope to go about it in a bigger way once the brand/logo gets registered and the FSSAI registration is completed too.

Till then, it is just the chocolate cake but I owe you all a big “THANK YOU” (especially to those who ordered and gave positive feedbacks). I am glad you loved it and my belief that delicious food can easily be made clean/healthy with a little extra effort, holds true.

Coming back to today’s post, I want to talk about core strength. I see so many of us struggle with things and movements in life because of core-strength, without even knowing we lack in it. Unfortunately, if we don’t know, we can’t work on it and we keep suffering.

Core strength can change the quality of life, for most of us…and still we never worry about it because we never knew. Let’s change that today.

So important I find it that when I start my fitness studio (due in another 4-5 months once I complete my ACSM certification), I am primarily going to focus on core strength and movements initially. It takes a while but the results are phenomenal, trust me.

Let us see what core strength is.

First, What Is Core?

In loose terms, core is our body without limbs. Core is central to our existence. The muscles in our body (without limbs) including those in our chest, abdomen and pelvis, stabilize our body and the posture.

And Core Strength?

The stronger these muscles are, the better control we have on our body. Overall core strength actually involves many different muscles working in sync, to stabilize our spine, hip area (pelvis) and attached muscles. Not only all these muscles need to be strong but they also need to learn to work together.

The benefits of a strong core would be:

  • It stabilizes our body allowing us easy and free movements with balance
  • As it provides us balance and control, our risk of falling becomes less. Less falling, less injuries
  • It provides proper posture to our body. Better posture means less pains and less injuries
  • Everyday acts/movements become easier including household chores, bending, turning, sitting, standing etc.
  • Very Important for people who work desk-jobs to avoid postural pains
  • Lowers risk of back pain and injuries
  • Provides good posture
  • Very important for runners as well – do not underestimate core, if you run
  • Strength and balance as we age

How To Know If We Have A Weak Core?

We can take the core test also, to see where one stands. Will come to that a little later. Meanwhile, here are a few signs that would tell you that you have a weak core, without even taking any test.

  • If your back hurts after standing or even sitting for a while, you have a weak core
  • Frequent lower back pains
  • Poor posture – e.g. rounded back/hunching or drooping shoulders
  • Poor balance in general
  • Get breathless with little exertion
  • Can’t stand for long and feel a general weakness in body and body strength

Now, Core Test

There are many core-tests that one can take to assess the core strength but the easiest one is the 60-sec plank.

All you need is a mat on floor and hold yourself in plank position on elbows. If you can hold for 60 seconds, you have good core strength and if you cannot, you do not.

If you are able to complete 60 sec plank, try one sit-up and a side plank on elbows. It you can, congratulations. It is time to move up the ladder!!

How To Strengthen Core

If you cannot complete these basic tests and show/have one or many signs of a weak core as we discussed above, do not worry. It can be worked upon. Slowly and steadily though. Do not be in a hurry or you would cause more damage than gains.

I am going to share some beginner’s exercises only because it is important that you start under supervision to avoid injuries. However, if you know the proper form, ONLY THEN include these exercises in your daily routine.

  • Bridge
  • Crunch and bicycle crunch – if you have existing back pain, go very slow
  • Supine Toe -Tap
  • Bird-Dog move
  • Mountain climbers – go slow
  • Basic plank on elbows – start with however much you can hold and slowly increase the duration to 60 seconds

However, I will repeat, it is important to start under supervision to avoid injuries and if you have existing back-pain etc, go very, very slow.

It’s a slow process but the payback is huge. It improves the overall quality of our life.

Hope you found today’s post useful. Check out my Insta-feed to see that over a period of 2 years, where I have reached in terms of core strength. You can too.


https://www.instagram.com/reel/CWvFs1RjqOI/?utm_medium=copy_link

Stay consistent, give just 1-hour every day to yourself (5 days a week is good) for your fitness routine, eat well and see the magic happen. I kid you not!

Love, Health & Peace

What You Always Wanted To Know About Planks

Hi Friends, how was the week that went by?

First of all, a big THANK YOU to all of you who have liked my last blog to the count of thousands and a special hug to all those who have followed me on Instagram as well.

A big high five to all of you who have started some sort of fitness regime…if I am your inspiration, YOU are MY motivation! More strength to you all!

Today’s blog is about a very simple, versatile and essential body weight exercise that can be done by anyone, anywhere, anytime of the day. It only takes 15 minutes for a complete set, can be mixed up with other body-weight workouts, even with yoga…and you do not need any equipment!! What’s your excuse now? Bring yourself, is all it asks!

You might love them, you might hate them but you gotta do them! Yes, Planks.

Funnily enough, I am not a big fan of the basic standard Forearm planks. I did them initially just because they were essential but I did find them boring. Once I finished mastering the basic ones, I looked at the variations for next level and suddenly, I found myself a convert. A convert to the ‘I love planks’ tribe!

I still cannot hold my basic plank for more than 2 minutes but the variations are a different world altogether. Fun, challenging and absolutely essential for a solid core! Why core? I have already covered it before, read this post here, to understand how a strong, stable core can change your world!

What Are Planks

Planks are one of the most effective exercises one can do because they offer great returns on small investments of time and efforts!

Planks engage more than 20 muscles all at once. Planks are great as they:

  • Increase core strength
  • Work upper Body – biceps, neck, shoulders, arms muscles
  • Tones your glutes (bums) and thigh muscles

Benefits

  • A stronger you
  • Flatter tummy
  • Stability in posture and overall balance
  • A strong back – thus preventing back and spinal injuries
  • Improved metabolism
  • Better mental health – If you are a part of my Instagram family, you know already how I am a firm believer of the fact that “a healthy mind needs a healthy body”! This needs a separate post altogether because we tend to think that we could be mentally happy and healthy without indulging in any sort of fitness regime and that’s just NOT true! Why? How? Next Friday is that only 😊

How To Plank

I can tell you how to, it’s not complicated at all but best would be for you to find a plank-video online and have a look. Or, watch me doing an advanced version of planks – ‘Weighted Planks’, here on Instagram. The basic ‘Forearm Plank’ is just the same, minus the 50 lbs on my back.

https://www.instagram.com/jillofmanytrades_blogger/

Start with the beginner planks and once you are able to easily hold it for 30 seconds and more, you can move on to the next levels. Slowly, gradually and surely!

Variations

There are many variations to planks once you master the basic standard Forearm-plank and High-plank. My favorites are shoulder-taps, side star-planks, planks with a row, mountain-climbers, hip-dips and weighted planks. Now, I am looking forward to try Spider-man planks and scary-looking swiss ball jackknives and swiss ball pikes.

There are many other variations as you go, find them online or leave me a message for a link or the videos. Follow me on Instagram for daily dose of motivation and fun, challenging work-out ideas 🙂

Looks hard? You would rather try your hands at milder Yoga? Alright, here we go. In yoga, the basic plank pose is called Dandasana or Kumbhakasana (high-plank). No escaping planks anywhere!!

Remember

  • If you can’t hold the basic plank at first, start with a bent-knee plank
  • Hold the proper posture every time, don’t let your hips sag
  • Practice every day, increase the time by 10 secs every few days
  • Mix-up with other body weight/functional exercise such as push-ups, squats etc for overall health and fitness

However, if you have an already existing back-injury or other medical conditions including extra weight, please consult your doctor/physiotherapist/trainer beforehand and/or go real slow. In fact, in such cases, under initial supervision, planks could prove to be great alternatives to crunches or sit-ups, as they put less strain on your back, spine and hips!

Hope you found today’s post informative. Do share around with like-minded people.

Till next Friday

Hugs, Health and Peace