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Posts Tagged ‘Mat Work’

Working Strong

Avigail wrote a great post yesterday about the importance of training your core not for appearance’s sake but because it is the source of your power.  In that spirit, here are some exercises that work multiple muscles in and around your core.  Trust me — these exercises will not give you a washboard six pack by themselves.  Doing endless ab exercises won’t reduce fat on your stomach.  Only a balanced diet and steady exercise will reduce fat all over your body.  But a six-pack shouldn’t be your goal.  The goal is to be a STRONG, confident Barnard woman!  So let’s get STRONG!  To get your power revved up, here are 10 exercises:

Selected exercises are a compilation from Runner’s World, Shape, and Fitness magazines.

1) Superman

Face down on the floor, raise your head, your left arm, and right leg five inches off the floor.  Hold for three counts and reverse, raising the other arm and leg for three counts.  Do 10 reps on each side.  Then do 10 additional reps on each side at a fast, fluttering pace.

Muscles: transversus abdominis and erector spinae

2) Metronome

Roll over onto your back with your feet in the air at 90 degrees, arms extended outward.  Rotate your legs to the left side, bringing your knees as close to the floor as possible without touching.  Return to the center, then move your knees to the right side.  Do 20 reps per side.  Control the movement from your hips, without swinging or using momentum.

Muscles: internal and external obliques

3) Wide Crunch

Bend knees at 90 degrees, shins parallel to the floor, with hands behind the head.  Lower bent left shin out to left side about 12 inches to 10 o’clock position.  Keeping legs still, crunch and lower.  Maintaining knee bend, tap left foot to floor, then raise it again to complete one rep.  Do 15 reps and then switch sides.

Muscles: internal obliques and rectus abdominis

4) Fly Crunch

Lie with legs together and extended at a 45 degree angle.  Hold a 5-10 lb weight in each hand, arms out to sides, palms up.  Contract abs as you lift shoulder blades off the floor, bringing arms together above chest and lifting legs to a 90 degree angle.  Return to start.  Do 30 reps.

Muscles: pectoralis major and rectus abdominis

5) Wiper Blade

Keeping bent legs in the air, put left hand behind head and extend right arm to ceiling.  Crunch and lower.  Bring right arm between knees as you crunch up.  Return to start.  Next, bring right arm by left leg as your crunch.  Return to start to complete 1 rep.  Do 15 reps.  Switch sides and repeat.

Muscles: transversus abdominis, internal obliques, and external obliques

6) Side Slimmer

Sit on floor with knees bent.  Hold a 5-8 lb weight at chest level, arms extended, a hand on each end.  Lift feet a few inches and hold as you twist your torso and bend elbows to bring weight towards the floor behind your left hip.  Bring back across your body and to the floor behind your right hip (this is one rep).  Do 20 reps.

Muscles: rectus abdominis and external obliques

7) Plank Lift

Roll back over onto your stomach.  With your elbows under your shoulders, lift your torso, legs and hips in a straight line from head to heels.  Hold for 20 seconds.  Raise your right leg a few inches, keeping the rest of your body firm.  Lower and repeat with left leg.  Repeat leg lifts 20 times.

Muscles: transversus abdominis and erector spinae

8) Plank Twist

Get into push up position, hands slightly wider than shoulders.  Place lower legs on stability ball.  Draw your belly button in and bring left knee toward chest.  Draw it to the right, twisting hips.  Return to starting position.  Do 20 reps, switching sides.

Muscles: rectus abdominis, pectoralis major, and trapezius

9) Overhead Squat

Stand with feet wide, toes turned out.  Holding a dumbbell in each hand, extend arms overhead, palms facing upward.  Squat as your bend right arm and twist slowly so that elbow points down between legs.  Stand up while extending right arm overhead, then repeat with left arm on next rep.  Do 20 reps, switching sides.

Muscles: deltoids, glutes, internal oblique, and transversus abdominis

10) Standing Seesaw

Stand on step or bench with right foot, left foot hanging off the side.  Hold a dumbbell in right hand by your side, left hand on your hip.  Keeping abs engaged and back straight; lift left leg straight out to the side as high as possible while raising right arm straight out to shoulder level with palm down.  Return to start.  Do 15 reps and switch sides.

Muscles: deltoids, transversus abdominis, and hip abductors

These exercises will strengthen your core muscles, which prevent shallow breathing and fatigue so that you can exercise longer and with greater intensity.

Now, I exercise regularly and eat healthily, but I still have a nice cushion on my belly.  And I am okay with that!  My body is strong.  I recovered from a stress fracture!  I can run more than 9 miles!  I overcame a history of unhealthy eating habits and soothing loneliness with junk food!

We all should all be proud of the ways our bodies are built.  We have full hips, bountiful breasts, and buoyant bellies.  We are petite and tall.  We are curvaceous and compact.  Let’s work to be strong and be proud of what we achieve!  Post a comment about how you are strong.


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