In this weeks challenge I will address the most asked question in the gym. How do I flatten my stomach. This is the most asked question but its not an accurate question. Because the stomach can't be flatten by doing core work or any type of exercise. You should start with a sound nutritional plan first to reduce the body fat around the waistline.
The better question should be. How do I make my stomach strong? There are many benefits to a very strong core. This week we will start you off on a very simple but highly effective core challenge. So lets get started reaping the benefits.
We will use a very simple core exercise for the core challenge. The Plank. #Less equals more
First you need to know what position to start in based on your present fitness level. Most of us know what a plank looks like but, if you don't, here is a simple way to look at it. The plank is the position you start in if you where doing a push-up. Your hands should be a little in front of the shoulders, at shoulder width apart and the feet should be together. Your shoulder, hips, knees, and feet should create a straight line. Your goal is to maintain this straight-line for the entire time of being in the plank. When you can no longer hold a straight line then you rest and make a note of the time
We will use a 3 phase program for the plank challenge. You need 3 items which would represent 3 different levels for this challenge. In your home you will need a table, a chair, and the floor. In the gym you need 3 levels also which could be an adjustable bench or 2 different ones plus the floor as your 3rd level.
If you can't hold a plank correctly on the floor, then you would use one of the other 2 levels which allows you to hold the plank in correct alignment the longest. Once you have the correct level then you follow the plank challenge as written. When you are stronger move to a lower level.
*Inhale through your noise and exhale out of your mouth long slow breaths continuously.
*Do not round your upper back.
*Do not let your hips sag.
*Do not lift your butt up out of position.
*Your hands should be facing straight.
*Push through your heels.
*Keep legs straight.
* Make sure your low back doesn't sink.
* Keep your body level.
If you never used a plank before, what might happen is your wrist might become a little stiff and painful. To prevent this from happening do only 1 set the first week. This will allow your wrist time to become stronger without injuring it.
It takes 4 weeks for your body to completely adapt. Which means, to gain its maximum strength. Its very important to complete the 4 weeks before you try any other version of the plank. Use the basic plank to build your base of core strength first. Do not try to do to much when you first start. Leave a little gas in the tank.
1st - 5th days - Hold plank for as long as you can and time yourself. 1 set - Maximum time 2 minutes
1st - 5th days - Hold plank for as long as you can and time yourself. 2 sets - Maximum time 2 minutes each set
1st - 5th days - Hold plank for as long as you can and time yourself. 3 sets - Maximum time 2 minutes each set
1st - 5th days - Hold plank for as long as you can and time yourself. 4 sets - Maximum time 2 minutes each set
Advance tips: If you are already good at holding a plank, these tips will help you refine your plank to maximize your results from this exercise.
*Make sure your head stays neutral. Do not let your forehead reach down to the floor.
*Try to open your chest so your back muscles stabilize your shoulders instead of your chest muscles..
*Make sure your shoulder blades are depressed and not up toward your ears.
*Your hands should have a slight external rotation but still are facing straight forward which helps the shoulders stay locked into a depressed position.
*Push back through your heels to lock your legs straight.
*Slightly squeeze your inner thighs and push the feet together. This will help stabilize you when fatigue starts.
*Breath long slow breaths in through your nose and out slow through your mouth. This should be a continues flow of breath without breaks. You are using your breath to activate your core.
*Bring your hands closer together to activate more deeper core muscle fibers. Your hands can actually touch each other side by side to narrow the base of support. Your feet should be together not wide.
*If your hip flexors are tight you might see a sinking in your low back as you fatigue. There might also be some pain in your back if this happens. You need to stretch your hip flexors to prevent this from happening. As you become stronger in your core this will be easier to manage. Stop if you have any form of pain.
*To develop maximum core strength.
*To maintain neutral alignment in a horizontal plane.
After 4 weeks you should be able to complete a 2 minute plank with ease. The plank is a simple movement but if its mastered it builds a powerful base to build up on. #Less equals more
Reggie - Email us if you have questions.
The number #1 injury we see in the gym are shoulder injuries. It is the most complex joint in the human body. It has to move in multiple planes of motion freely. If the shoulder lacks full mobility the amount of stress put on the muscles can lead to overuse. Which can cause the development of scar tissue, trigger points, pain, and at times inflammation. Overuse is the biggest contributor to shoulder injuries and they are not easy to fix.
How to fix your shoulders
The 2 basic problems you will have with your shoulder are tightness, and weakness.
Tight shoulders are mainly cause by bad posture, bad training technique, overtraining, lack of movement, scar tissue, and repeating the same movements over a long period of time,
Weakness in your shoulders are caused by lack of strength, overtraining, an injury, tight shoulders, scar tissue, and lack of movement.
1st step is to increase the range of motion in the shoulders in all planes.
This can be done with a foam roller or massage ball followed with a stretching program and then exercises to strengthen the shoulder.
We focus first on recovering and cleaning up the shoulder rotators, shoulder abduction, internal and external rotation as base of movements. As you regain movement in all planes you need to start strengthening next.
Here is a concept we keep in mind when we are working on mobility and strength. Agonist and antagonist muscle concepts. This is a concept which states when a muscle contracts the opposite muscle relaxes. Also, is the base concept of active stretching. Active stretching is the stretching technique we use first to lengthen the muscle after foam rolling it. When you have a tight muscle you first apply a foam roll technique(myofascial stretch) to improve the range of motion of it then you active stretch it. However, it will not stay unless you strengthen the opposite muscle.(The antagonist)
How to strengthen the shoulders.
A very important TIP!!!
A common posture disfunction is forward head position and rounded shoulders. This posture position rounds your back which rounds your T-spine. The shoulder joint is a complex part of the scapular and the scapular is attached to the T-spine, ribs, and arm, by muscles. What this means, if the T-spine movement is compromised this will effect the shoulder joint. This leads to a dysfunctional movement, shoulder injuries, tightness in the shoulder, and loss of strength in the shoulder. The major point to take away from this is although the shoulder is painful, the problem with shoulder started from the bad posture which effects your T-spine which determines the scapular position. Fix your posture, and T-spine first and your shoulder will heal and start to move better.
The 3 dimensional Shoulder
We break the shoulder down to 3 basic parts. The T-spine, shoulder rotators, and deltoids.
The 1st phase and the base of the shoulder correction is the T-spine and scapular.
Our T-spine workout consist of 2 steps.
1. Increasing the flexibility of the chest muscles.(Pectorals major and minor)
2. Using a foam roller or therapy ball to increase the mobility of the T-spine.
The 2nd phase is to strengthening the shoulder rotators. There are 4 rotators with 3 basic movements. Each movement needs to be strengthen.
The third phase of the shoulder is to strengthen the deltoids. The deltoids should be the last of the 3 muscles strengthen.
We use 4 basic exercises the front raise, side raise, a standing cobra A-position, and overhead raise. These exercises helps to correct rounded shoulders and the stronger you become with these exercises the improvement you will see in your posture.
Watch the video below to see some of the exercises we use in this workout.
AFC blog is about supporting you so you can live your best life. We strive to inspire everyone to live each day better than the last. Our blog is dedicated to teaching ideas that motivate you to live a fit life.