Thursday, 28 October 2010
Thursday, 14 October 2010
So for our example above, assuming moderate activity (work out 3-5 days/wk),
As I mentioned at the beginning where your calories come from is also key in unlocking weight loss. So check out my other blog posts to find out what you should be eating, and what you should avoid at all costs if weight loss, or indeed health, is your goal.
You can also work with me personally to figure out a diet suited to you and your specific goals by contacting me through my Personal Training website www.MarkOneFitness.co.uk
Friday, 1 October 2010
I remember back at school we often did “fitness tests”. Even studying Sports Science at uni we went through these so-called fitness tests, and again on my Personal Training course.
The bleep test
Sit and Reach test (for flexibility)
The sit-up test etc.
These are all tests that have been used for years – but how effective are they?
The bleep test works. It’s a great way to test your general fitness level, and the key is in re-testing, NOT in the level you reach when you do it. (There are other considerations to bear in mind, but if all things remain unchanged, the re-test will show fairly accurately any gains or losses in fitness levels).
Sit and reach is pretty useless. It doesn’t show where your flexibility/inflexibility is coming from, since it is a whole body test.
And as for the sit-up/crunch test, that’s the reason for this post.
The rectus abdominus (the “abs” or 6-pack muscle) is a superficial muscle. Meaning, while it looks very nice, it doesn’t do much to support your body functionally. It won’t go far in helping with your stability, strength, or anything else... it will however help give you awful posture and back pain if overtrained.
Due to the attachments of the muscle in the body, if you do 100’s of sit-ups/crunches, it will pull your chest downwards towards your stomach, rounding your back and producing awful, and unattractive, postural distortions. As well as rounded shoulders and tight hip flexors (which are a problem many people face these days anyway, without these awful exercises reinforcing the posture!).
Obviously, as well as looking awful, this poor posture can cause all sorts of problems, predominantly in the shoulders, neck and back. Joints out of alignment will cause pain, stiffen up/lose mobility, and cause muscle imbalances which can lead to injury.
With back pain being as common as it now is, and all the hype about “core” training, more and more people are turning to these exercises in order to work their core. As well as the belief that thousands of sit-ups will help lose the belly (which obviously we know it won’t).
Well it’s not working. As I said earlier – the rectus abdominus is a superficial muscle, meaning it doesn’t work to stabilise and support the spine. In fact, it works to flex the spine. That means it’s actually going to make things WORSE, by exacerbating the problem. Plus, all the time you spend working your abs, you’re NOT spending doing the exercises that WILL help!
In order to reduce back pain, and pain in any other areas, you need to work on balancing the muscles across your body and re-aligning the joints.
If you want to work your “core”, you need to focus on exercises that will strengthen the deeper muscles of your trunk, such as the Transverse Abdominus and Obliques.
Planks, side planks, and side raises are good exercises for this, but sticking to large, full-body movements will make sure you’re activating your core in a functional way, instead of isolating the movements.
In short, you don’t need to specifically work on your core. If you’re using good exercise selection, your core will be working the whole time. (And as for losing the belly, it’s these large movements that are going to burn the calories, not small, isolated movements like crunches or bicep curls.)
Crunches will lead to imbalances, poor posture, back pain, and potential injury. You might have a nice looking 6-pack, but it won’t look good on a hunch-back who looks like they’re in pain!
For more ideas on exercises you can do that will work your “core” without causing back problems and muscle imbalance, check out my youtube channel www.youtube.com/markonefitness