Category Archives: core

CrossFit Transformation.

I am now 6 weeks into CrossFit. I decided to take measurements before I started which would help me determine just how effective CrossFit was for body composition and overall fitness. While I knew that CrossFit felt different than what I was previously doing I didn’t quite know how much change would occur in just 6 weeks.
CrossFit preaches a Paleo diet which is the eat like a Caveman approach. All organic meats and fresh veggies and fruits only. No processed foods, no carbs, no sugars, no beans, and no dairy. I didn’t quite adopt the Paleo diet completely but I am slowly trying to get there as much as possible. What I have done is increase my protein intake dramatically. I was always focused on just the number of calories that I eat and trying to keep that number to help me maintain my weight. I wasn’t necessarily focused on what foods I was putting into my body. This diet helped me lose 90 pounds and it also helped me maintain that weight loss for 7 years. However, in the last 6 weeks I have been attempting to get a good 40,30,30 split. 40% protein, 30% carbs, and 30% fat. My goal now is to get 200 grams of protein a day and also particularly after a CrossFit workout to have a a protein shake with 40 grams immediately after. I stopped eating cheese, yogurt, and bread which were staples of my diet for a while. I still use Saturday and Sunday Dinners as cheat meals. I allowed myself to to eat whatever I wanted on these days. I used to eat a lot of fast food which was light on calories. I often ate dunkin donuts flat bread egg whites and things like that. Now, I am basically eating salads, chicken, eggs, vegetables, and a lot of Think Thin protein bars which I love. I also eat edamame and dried peas and lots of fruit.
My workouts these days are CrossFit twice a week, one other day a week at regular weight room which is mostly abs and core and 2 runs a week consisting of 3-6 mile runs. In about another month my runs will becomes more frequent and also more intense as the weather gets better. I am running the NYC Marathon this year so I decided to only do CrossFit twice a week so that I have enough time to train for that.
So just 6 weeks into CrossFit at only twice a week:
My weight went from 188-192. I gained 4 pounds. If I was just using a scale as my measuring tool I would not be happy. But let’s look at my other measurements.
My neck went from 15 to 15.25
My waist went from 37 to 35.5
My Hips went from 40 to 39.5
My Body Fat percentage went from 22-20%
My Chest went from 44 to 42.75
My Chest and Shoulders went from 52 to 52.5
And the most amazing number is my thighs went from 18 to 22.5.

I gained 4.5 inches in my legs in 6 weeks. Wow! I knew Crossfit was very leg heavy and I could feel my legs becoming stronger but to gain 4.5 inches was crazy. If you look at all of my numbers everything went down but my shoulders and my legs went up. This is reason number one that you can’t just use a scale as your measurement tool. I can’t wait to see how these numbers continue to change as I get more and more into my CrossFit workouts and also as I start to run more in preparation of the Marathon. The latest research shows that CrossFit increases Vo2 max which will help my oxygen uptake and I think if I take care of my body and recover properly I expect great things from my marathon times. So far CrossFit is a success and I am very happy with it.

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First day of school

Tomorrow is the first day for teachers to report to school. I was asked by my department head to give a quick presentation on core training for students. There will be elementary teachers as well as the High School physical education teachers present. Here is what I came up with. I plan on handing this out and doing active demonstrations.

Core Training for physical education classes.

Perhaps you have heard of Core training but are not completely sure what it means. Maybe you heard it in a magazine or you heard it in a gym. Maybe some of your students use the term very loosely.

Before we learn what is “the core” let’s learn what it is not. Core is not a newer term for abs. While your students may use core and abs interchangeably they are not the same thing. The core is made up of a group of muscles that all work together to stabilize your body during movement. They allow for a seamless transition between your upper to lower body. The Core muscles are generally located in the middle of your body and mostly acting on your spine to help brace your body in an upright position. (Think good posture).
These muscles consist of:
Stomach:
Rectus Abdominus
Transverse Abdominus
Obliques

Back:
Erector Spinae
Scapula movers ( group of muscles) to a lesser extent.
Hips:
Ilio Psoas
Gluteus Maximus
Gluteus Minimus
Hamstrings to a lesser extent

Traditional ab exercises involve the movement and contraction of the abdominal muscles by flexing and extending the lumbar spine to create tension. Think of a good old-fashioned sit up or crunch. While this might develop your “six pack abs” It leaves out most of those other muscles we just mentioned. Also, the lumbar spine is not meant to have a great deal of flexion and extension. This promotes a kyphotic spine position. Unless you want to look like Quasimodo then this is a bad thing.

A good portion of a core training program involves not mobility but stability. The ability of the core muscles to stabilize when gravity, our own movement, or external forces attempt to create imbalances. Think about a defensive lineman in football being blocked. While he is pushing and grabbing with his hands and arms it is really his hips, glutes, and abs which need to brace to prevent being pushed backwards. There is no abdominal contraction but instead a bracing of the transverse abdominal that initiates the athletic movement. In core training resisting force is equally as important as creating it.

How does core training help the non athlete or average person? Well all of those core muscles create a tight brace for you lower back. Think of an old-time corset. A strong core helps with posture which can prevent lower back pain and injuries. It can also help you with balance and coordination. This can come in handy whether you are swinging a golf club or you are doing chores around the house.

Core work for older kids: 7th – 12th grade

Some examples of exercises that work the core without any equipment:

Plank:
Hands and toes
Forearms and toes
Incline or Decline
1 arm or leg on knees or toes
side planks
rotational planks

Glute bridges:
Marching
Double leg
Single leg w/ isometric hold

Abs:
Rollouts
Pilates Holds
Pikes
Knee tucks
Hip circles

Back:
Birddogs
Supermans
Alternating swimmer

Equipment that could be used for station work:
Stability ball
Rubber tubing
Bosu ball

For younger kids: 2nd to 8th grade

Elementary school:

Some tips to tell if a child has poor core strength:
1. poor posture in class
2. shifts in seat excessively
3. would rather lie down to watch TV then sit up
4. leans on hands a lot. (head or arms)
5. falls often. (balance issues)

Tight Rope:
Have kids walk on a line or tape. Heel to toe.. You can increase the difficulty by having them balance a bean bag on their head. You can also make the line curve rather then be straight. For added difficulty you can add more obstacles with instructions while still balancing a bean bag on their head. (Bend over and touch a cone) at certain points on the rope.

Crab walk races:

Wheelbarrow races

Plank holds:

Chair Leg lifts:
Have students lift both legs and eventually legs and arms and perform a static hold. For added difficulty straighten arms and legs. Concentrate on staying “tall”

Single Leg balance:

Partner planks: 2 person or 4 person

Partner push ups: 2 person or 4 person

Try to engage kids to compete and make games / races wherever possible.

King of all exercises.

The dead-lift is the ultimate exercise for total body development. For years I avoided the dead-lift like it was the plague. I would do legs maybe once a week if I was in the mood. When I did lift my legs it was usually leg extensions, curls, calf raises, and if I was feeling crazy I would occasionally do squats. I think most people who lift weights on a regular basis probably feel the same way. In fact, a lot of my clients when asked to perform dead-lifts would rather go for a nice easy 8 mile run. The complete newbies who have never seen a dead-lift before think to themselves, “will this hurt my back.”
I recently began coming back to the dead-lift because I had a change in my mindset. I had always thought of the dead-lift as a knee dominant exercise that targeted the quads. As soon as I mentally made the switch and figured out that it was a hip dominant exercise that focused on the glutes I was hooked. The basis of all athletic movement is the glutes. Your glutes have to fire to push off while sprinting or to drive a golf ball 250 yards. The gutes are part of the “core” that everyone talks about. The core is not just your abs but your entire midsection, front and backside. All of the muscles that act on the spine to provide a basis for movement. When I was dead-lifting years ago I wasn’t doing them incorrectly. I just didn’t quite know how to complete the exercise. On the top of a well executed dead-lift you should squeeze your gutes. This is one of the keys that helps protect the lower back.
Another thing I have been doing recently is wearing my vibram five finger shoes on my leg days. The barefoot feel really gives the dead-lift an added dimension. Instead of your sneakers you can really feel your feet pushing into the ground evenly and forcefully. This recruits more muscle fibers and allows you to strengthen all of the muscles along your entire backside. The dead-lift doesn’t just work your glutes. It incorporates your fascia throughout your lower back which helps your entire back side feel like one unit. When you are in the top position you even use your scapula to pull down and engage the rotator cuff muscles and the lats.
Pound for pound there is no exercise that incorporates as many muscle fibers as the dead-lift. The more muscle fibers that are recruited to work the more energy your body will need. The dead-lift is great for people who want to add muscle and lose body fat. All athletes need to incorporate the dead-lift into their routine. However, it is not just an exercise for athletes. Any person who is interested in physical fitness and their appearance could greatly benefit from dead-lifting more frequently.