Results for category "Exercises"

37 Articles

Isometric Hold and Crunch

I am definitely a fan of simple, classic movements. Exercise doesn’t have to be fancy to be effective. That said, sometimes we need to spice things up or add a little bit of variety to boost motivation. I was introduced to this movement recently, and found it to be fun, challenging and effective.

Form is always of utmost importance. As with any exercise, don’t sacrifice form for additional resistance, speed, diversity, or anything else. If you’re still working to build basic core strength, and traditional crunches put a strain on your neck, hold off on trying this move until you feel more prepared. At the bottom of this page I have listed a couple of modifications to decrease intensity, if required.

Isometric Hold and Crunch

Lay flat on the ground, facing up toward the ceiling. Bend one leg to form a 90 degree angle and hold a weighted medicine ball between your knee and hand (I am using an 8lbs ball in these pictures). This arm and leg will not move. Focus on squeezing the knee and hand together to hold the medicine ball in place and activate the muscles (create contraction), but there will be no range of motion. Extend your other arm and leg. These will be your “active” limbs. Lift the active leg and shoulder blades slightly off of the ground to engage your core. This will be your starting position.

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Keeping active limbs long, slowly lift each one simultaneously to reach for the toes and meet in the middle. You should be exhaling on the lift and inhaling as you return to the starting position. Opposite side maintains contraction with no movement. The knee will be pushing toward your head as the hand provides equal resistance to press the knee away. The harder you push, the more you increase intensity.

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As you move through your prescribed repetitions, be aware of your body position and holding true to form. Continue to ask yourself if your breath is good, if you’re maintaining a good angle on the isometric hold (as you fatigue, you’ll notice that 90 degree angle diminishing…make the correction), is your power coming from your core or are you trying to lift through the neck? Stay strong. Do not allow active leg and shoulder blades to touch down on the floor between reps, but bring the arm and leg as close to the ground as you can with slow and controlled movement.

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You can modify this exercise slightly and decrease intensity in the following ways:

  1. Use your hand to press directly against your knee in the isometric hold (eliminating the medicine ball).
  2. Rest active arm and leg completely  down between each rep.

Whether you choose to add additional resistance with a medicine ball, or perform this movement on its own with rest between reps (allowing the shoulder blades and active leg to release to the ground between reps), try for three sets of 10-15 on each side, with good form. See how you feel and adjust the intensity accordingly.

 

Train hard, train safe and have fun!

Elevated Jackknife with a Fit Ball

Whew! Wordy title, but I couldn’t think of a snappier way to summarize this exercise. This is a more advanced move for those who have a solid foundation of core work and are looking to turn up the intensity. If you don’t have access to a flat bench, you can also perform this exercise in prone position with shins on the top of the ball and arms in push-up position (wrists in alignment with shoulders). This exercise hits many additional stabilizing muscles, but primarily focuses on the Transversus Abdominus and Rectus Abdominus (think working toward chiseling out that six-pack). Read More →

Rep and a Half Chest Press

I’ve recently been doing some further investigation into half rep techniques. I have found partial reps to be very beneficial in my own training, and that’s why I was interested in research discussing the Rep and a Half Chest Press. I should also note that I promote the use of various techniques during training, and while I do use and benefit from partial reps, it’s also important to ensure this is only one facet of a well balanced program. Read More →

Knee Tap Plank

So your plank, rocks? Form is solid? Looking to add a little some-n’ some-n’?

Knee Tap Planks might be for you. I personally enjoy using this exercise in my own training. When performed properly, you can really feel the boost of intensity. Planks are one of those go-to exercises that can be performed virtually anywhere and with no special equipment. If you have lower back pain (and have been cleared for exercise by your physician), planks are a fantastic way to strengthen your core. A primary reason for lower back pain is muscle weakness. Read More →

Unilateral Squat

It’s very common to have imbalances within our body. One leg is stronger than the other. One arm has more flexibility, or a greater range of motion than the other. This is when unilateral exercises become an important part of our training routines. Working one side of the body at a time, allows the weaker side to gain strength without the stronger side providing any compensation. Read More →

Fit Ball Wall Crunch

If you follow my web site, you know I’m a fan of angles. The same exercise can be approached from various angles and hit the muscle in new ways. I added this as a superset to the more standard Fit Ball Crunch that places feet on ground (TIP: when doing standard Fit Ball Crunch, balance on your heels and point toes toward the ceiling. It decreases stability and forces greater contraction of the core). Read More →

Mountain Climbers – Full Body

I might not be talking about Everest here, but there’s no denying that Mountain Climbers are an amazing full body move to toss in the mix. Use them as a warm up, or superset them with another exercise. Either way, I can’t complete a set of these without feeling some gains the next day. Read More →

90 Degree Wall Split for Inner Thighs

I feel like I have strong legs. They’re not long, lean, runway model legs…but I’ve always thought they were pretty strong. And I love them for their strength. They’ve served me well throughout my competitive soccer days, and into the “chasing a six year old around” days. That said, I’m always brought back to reality when I decide to add inner thigh exercises to my routine. Oh yes. The inner thigh wants attention too, and when I work this area I am reminded that perhaps I have neglected it for too long. Read More →

Single Leg Chair Squat

This is a great, unilateral, lower body move. A unilateral exercise is a move that focuses on one side of the body at a time. This is a great training tool when you want to ensure that the stronger side isn’t compensating for the weaker side. You can build strength exactly where you need to.

The Single Leg Chair Squat not only works the obvious larger muscles (glutes, quads, hamstrings) but it also recruits many smaller, stabilizing muscles while engaging your core and working on balance. Here’s how to perform it: Read More →