June 24, 2024

Power Up Your Plank

Fit Body:

Power up your plank by adding a side leg lift

Challenge your core with this move. Begin in a high plank, on your hands and toes, body straight. Then, lift your right foot off the ground about 2 inches. Keeping your torso and shoulders still, lift your right foot up toward your right hand, and then return to your starting position. Next, lift your left foot up off the floor. In a smooth, controlled motion move your left foot toward your left hand, and then return to your starting position. Do 6 total reps.


*Consult your physician before performing exercise.

Crunch-less Abs

Fit Body:

V Sit Abdominal Exercise

Strengthen your abs and core with this crunch-less ab exercise. Begin sitting on the floor, with both legs out straight in front of you. Bend both knees, lean back slightly and place both hands on the floor for support. Pull your belly button in and keep your torso in proper alignment. In one motion, lift both feet up off the floor. Hold for a count of 20 seconds, and then release. Begin with 5 reps.


*Consult your physician before performing exercise.



Challenge Your Core

Get Fit Quick Tip:

Reverse Plank for Core!

Begin seated on the floor. Place both hands flat on the ground just under your shoulders. Place both feet flat just forward of your knees. Lift up your hips. Hold for 10 seconds. Pull your shoulders down into your body, squeeze your glutes and pull your belly butting in toward your spine.


*Consult your physician before performing exercise.

Total Core Strength

Get Fit Quick Tip:

Leg Raises for Total Core Strength.

Lie on your back. Place your arms wherever most comfortable to help maintaining neutral pelvis. Lift your right leg up off the floor about 2 feet, maintaining core stability, slowly lower your right about twelve inches. Immediately lift your left leg and slowly lower. Repeat leg raises 10 times total. This exercise is for intermediate exercisers, without injury concerns.


*Consult your physician before performing exercise.

Strength and Balance: All in One Exercise

Get Fit Quick Tip:

Strength and Balance: All in One Exercise

Build leg strength, core stability and balance, all in one exercise. Here’s how:

Stand on your right leg only. Hold both arms out to your sides for balance. Bend forward from your hips and keep your spine aligned. Tuck your chin in and look down at the floor. Hold this position for 10 seconds, then release. Stand on your left leg only, and repeat the exercise. Hold for 10 seconds, then release. To progress: Place both arms across your chest and extend the duration of your hold to 20-30 seconds.


*Consult your physician before performing exercise.

Challenge your Core with the Stability Ball

Get Fit Quick Tip:

Incorporate the Stability Ball!

Incorporate exercises on the stability ball for a core challenge.

Sit on the ball. Lift your right foot up off the floor and extend your right knee. Hold for 10 seconds, then release. Next, lift your left foot up off the floor, extend your left knee and hold for 10 seconds. Release.

(Choose the appropriate size stability ball for your height and ability.)


*Consult your physician before beginning exercise.


The Truth Behind the 6-Pack by Gen Levrant

Getting a six-pack: the truth behind visible abs

The rarity of ‘washboard’ abs renders them highly desirable, for both sexes. This desire is therefore easily exploited; evident from the thousands of miracle gadgets, supplements or shakes available; all claiming to give you a six pack.

The two most commonly overlooked and important facts I wish I’d been aware of, as an overweight and unhappy teenager longing for a six-pack, are:

1. Your overall body fat percentage must be lowered

This depends firstly on genetics and the amount of fat cells distributed over the abdominal area.

So how can body fat be reduced safely and permanently to reveal the abdominal muscles underneath?

Start by looking at the amount of sugar and processed food in your diet. They are the enemy, NOT fat. Anything your body cannot use for fuel will get stored. And no matter how hard you exercise, you cannot out-train a poor diet.

2. You cannot spot-reduce fat off specific areas of your body

Your abs are your core muscles, existing to stabilize and protect your trunk and lower back. They work from a variety of angles. So does that mean we need to perform sit-ups from a variety of angles in order to strengthen them and kill the fat on top? Far from it!

Sit ups are probably the most commonly misunderstood exercise I’ve come across in my career as a trainer. If you’ve spent a lot of your time devoted to doing as many as you can in order to flatten your stomach, please consider the following before you continue.

Our muscles have been designed to adapt to the stresses we place on them, in order to become stronger. Do bicep curls shrink our biceps? Do press ups shrink our chests? So…why would sit-ups shrink our stomachs?!

Compound exercises like squats and press ups encourage the abdominals to stabilize the pelvis and lower back; working them how they were designed to be. They function while we are standing; so to strengthen your core, get off the floor!

Our genetics may not be changeable but our lifestyles certainly are!

Gen Levrant is an Advanced Personal Trainer and weight-loss specialist. She runs a private functional training studio in Southampton UK helping people get safe and permanent results. For more info, email gen@fasterpt.com. Follow her on Twitter @PTGen or via Facebook.

3 Core Mistakes by Chanda Fetter

Having worked in the fitness industry for over twenty years, one of the biggest deficiencies I’ve seen in people’s training is working the Core. Most neglect it all together, others just do the exercises improperly.  Either way it leads to bad posture, low back pain and countless other problems, all which could be eliminated. Remember your core essentially makes up all the muscles between your hips and your ribs both front and back!

Keep the following  in mind the next time you’re working your core:

Core is MORE than just Abs – The language I use with my clients is “front core” and “back core.” Owning a Pilates studio I see people with back problems all the time, I hear the same mistake over and over again. There is a misconception that working your Abs is working your Core.  If you neglect to work your spinal muscles but continue to work only your abs, there will be a drastic muscle imbalance created thus resulting in more back pain, tight hip flexors and even tension to the neck.  So evaluate your workouts and make sure to include “back core” exercises into your routine!

Slow Down – It pains me to walk through the training room and see people rapidly moving through their sit ups. If it hurts more than it helps, don’t do it! Moving too quickly through your motion adds stress to the spine, recruits too much hip flexor and tends to skip over the deeper abdominal muscles.  So just slow down a little and let your muscles define your range, not your momentum.

Be nice to your neck – Neck pain should not be felt during abdominal work. What most people neglect to address is the Lats. Often times when doing crunches people round the head forward too far and pull on it, or when in a plant the weight of the head sinks and adds stress to the neck. By simply pulling your shoulder blades down and engaging your Lats, the tension is pulled out of your neck and shoulders and allows for a much more enjoyable experience with core work.

Chanda Fetter
IMX Pilates Studio & Fitness Center, Owner
IMX Pilates Master Trainer

Planks Explained by Gen Levrant

Make your planks functional: 5 variations to try

I could go on for pages about why and how a standard plank will not give you a flat stomach. Holding your abdominal muscles isometrically for as long as you can is not functional. Fortunately, there are ways to tweak the plank to make it functional. For a muscle to produce a powerful contraction, it first needs to lengthen. This does not happen in the plank, so here are five variations to ensure it does. (Please consult with a fitness professional if you are pregnant, new to exercise or unsure of proper and safe technique. And as always, seek medical clearance from you doctor prior to beginning any exercises.)

Knee to chest: start in a standard plank position: elbows bent, forearms resting on the floor and abdominal muscles braced. Use your abs to pull one knee towards your chest, bending it at a right angle and exhaling. Repeat with other knee for 10-20 reps.

Tilting hips: start in a press up position. Keeping your feet together, tilt your right hip to the side as if trying to point it to the ceiling. The same side elbow will bend a little. Go back to the start and repeat with the other hip for a total of 10-20 reps

Reverse plank: start on all fours facing the ceiling with your elbows straight, knees bent and bottom off floor. Reach to  the ceiling with one hand, raising your pelvis to the ceiling and engaging your gluts. Dip your elbow and repeat for 10-15 reps before switching arms.

Up & under: start in a press up position, open one arm up as far as it goes. Bring it down under the body, reaching as far as you can before replacing it back at the start. Repeat with the other arm for 20 reps (10 each arm.)

Foot crossovers: start in standard plank. Cross one foot over the other to touch the floor outside of it, and bring back to the start. Repeat for 30 secs before switching legs.

Take a look at all moves demonstrated on YouTube.

These will hit your abdominals in three planes of motion, which is how we are designed to move. They can be added on to one of your existing workout routines or performed alone.

Gen Levrant is an Advanced Personal Trainer and fat-loss specialist operating out of a private functional training studio in Southampton UK. For fitness tips, updates and further info: http://www.fasterpt.com/personal-trainer-southampton/or email Gen via gen@fasterpt.com. Follow her on Twitter @PTGen, https://www.facebook.com/FasterPersonalTrainingSouthampton or via YouTube Channel http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82Jii13lkNY

At-Home Core Strength by Chanda Fetter

3 Effective Ways to Strengthen Your Core  Muscles At Home

We can’t always make time for the gym, sometimes we have to rely on the space and items we have around our home to get those important exercises done.  The following three exercises will help strengthen your core, tighten your waistline, reduce back pain and give you a boost of energy!

Sitting V with Trunk Rotation – Grab a bag of potatoes or fruit, something that might equate to 8-10 lbs.  Sit on the ground and wedge your feet under the couch to secure them in place.  Sit up tall and hinge back from the hips to engage your abdominals.  Be sure you don’t hinge back too far as you don’t want to over recruit your hip flexor muscles, nor do you want to load your lower back.  Stay at a safe angle that allows maximum recruitment of your abdominal wall.  Take your weight and rotate side to side making sure to stay evenly planted on your tail.  While you are performing this exercise be sure to tighten your abs and breathe deep.  Know that this exercise can be performed with just your body weight as well for less intensity by simply crossing your arms on your chest.   Perform until you find fatigue in your abdominals then rest for a few breaths and repeat 3x.

Back Extensions – Take a few pillows and place them on the floor.  Lie on your stomach so the pillows rest under your hips.  Wedge your feet under the couch and place your hands behind your head.  Lengthen out of your spine and inhale, then exhale and lift your chest off the ground to find a position just beyond neutral.  You’ll want to be sure you pull the shoulder blades down your back so you’re not taking weight into your neck and shoulders.  Keep your gluteal muscles relaxed and feel the muscles along the sides of your spine tighten and you extend your back.  Perform 3 sets of 8-12 reps with a 3 second hold at the top.

Plank with Rotation Knee Tucks – Take an ordinary kitchen towel or pillowcase and place it under your feet.  Assume a plank position up on your hands, tighten your abdominals and make sure to keep your legs zipped together as one.   Take a deep breath in and as you exhale pull your knees across your body and into your right elbow then your left.  Do this a total of 8-10x keeping a nice pace.  Notice that your hips will lift slightly as you pull the knees across your body.  This is an advanced exercise so know that holding a static plank is a great alternative.  Planks can be done on your hands, your forearms, on your toes or on your knees.

By Chanda Fetter
IM=X Pilates, Owner and Master Trainer. Contact Chanda via chanda@imxsb.net, www.imxsb.net or 805-687-4692.