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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.

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Here’s “The Situation”

The number one thing that most of my clients don’t understand is what is called spot reduction.  You cannot spot reduce fat from a certain area of your body by working that area.  If you want to lose fat around a certain area then you just have to lose fat as a whole.  However, client after client tells me that they want to do a lot of abs to get rid of their midsection fat.  The latest was a woman  doing a Russian twist and she told me  that we should do this more often because she needed work in that area.

Muscle and fat are two completely different things.  For whatever reason people can’t seem to grasp this concept.  Let’s say for example that you had fat around the back of your arms.  A lot of older women have this problem.  By doing tricep. exercises  such as dips and tricep. extensions you build the muscle underneath the layer of fatty tissue.  The muscle tissue will grow stronger and become tighter but this really has no effect on the fat above the muscle.  I don’t want to make it seem like there is no hope.  In fact if you have trouble spots then diet would be the number one way to remedy.  If you are able to cut calories and combine that with your workout and increased metabolism from lifting weights then you will see improvement in your problem area.

Back to the situation.  For those of you who watch the “Jersey Shore” Mike the situation is one of the characters who is known for having great abs.  The average person will never have abs with definition like that.  However, the number of crunches and leg lifts and bicycles really has nothing to do with seeing abdominal definition.  In fact, anyone who works out on a regular basis has pretty strong abs.  However, in order to see the definition you would have to have a pretty low body fat percentage.  Maybe 8% or less.  For the person who has a real job and a family this is just not a reality.  If you happen to be a reality TV star who doesn’t have much to do it might be easier.

Strong abdominals are important.  They can help strengthen you from the inside out.  It is important for posture and can help prevent back pain. You may have heard some people talk about the core.  My definition of the core is any muscle that acts on the spine.  If any of these muscles are out of balance it can throw the spine out of whack.  While you may never be able to be the situation you should still look into a personal trainer who can show you how to work your core effectively for life and not just for show.