Welcome to my October 2012 Monthly Workout!
As this is the first of my Monthly Workouts I’m going to focus this month on the Core and Abs.
If you are familiar with my training philosophies then you will know that I believe we should start by training the centre of the body in order to build a strong platform. A strong core means that you are able to handle movement from multiple directions and also transfer movement from the lower half of the body to the upper half.
Most importantly, a strong core means you are less prone to injury while enjoying anything you like to enjoy in daily life 🙂
The 7 Minute Workout
The exercise programme is very simple and only involves 3 exercises:
- Slow Mountain Climbers
- Side Plank with Rotation
- Dead Bugs
Each exercise is performed for a certain number of reps before moving onto the next. Once you have finished all 3 exercises then you continue repeating the circuit for a total of 7 minutes. Rest should be kept to a minimum between exercises.
When to Perform the Workout
The workout only lasts 7 minutes but it is intense. Â You can choose to perform the workout at the end of another workout as a core finisher or by itself as a stand alone workout.
If you are new to these types of workouts or haven’t really focused much on your Core / Abs in this way before I would use it as a stand alone workout. Get familiar with this type of training first and practice the exercises before integrating it into other workouts.
Word of Warning: this workout will totally fatigue your core muscles so don’t perform it before another workout. Totally wearing our your core muscles and total spinal stability system before embarking on other exercises is a seriously badÂ idea.
How Often to Use the Workout
I will list below ways you can make the exercises easier or harder so you can continue to use this workout for a full 4 weeks or maybe longer.
As with all exercise training everyone is different so I would recommend you start with a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule and see how it goes. Remember that the core muscle are like all other muscles and need time to recover and repair themselves. The trick is to work hard during the workout and then rest hard so they will recover stronger. More is not always better!
If you discover that your core muscles are still very sore after the days rest then please take another day off.
Why these Exercises are So Effective
During this workout you will be challenging your core stabilisation in the 3 fundamental movement directions: Frontal (side to side), Sagittal (forwards and backwards), and Transverse (Rotational).
Training your core in this way ensures that all the muscles that are responsible for all core movement directions are catered for.
The exercises described below are focused on Core Stabilisation. Basically, what this means is that you are moving arms and legs while the core is staying rigid and protecting the spine.
Core Stabilisation is fundamental for preventing injury and developing a strong platform for your limbs to operation from.
Lets Get Started
Here’s how the workout goes:
- Set your timer for 7 minutes
- Perform the Slow Mountain Climbers for 10 total reps alternating sides
- Next the Side Plank with Rotation for 5 reps each side
- Then, the Deadbugs for 10 total reps alternating side
- Continue repeating this circuit without rest for the 7 minutes
Exercise #1 – Slow Mountain Climbers
The Slow Mountain Climber starts from a basic push up position and then alternating knees are raised to the elbow slowly while keeping the hips and core tight and rigid. Your core muscles are challenged in this position both by gravity pushing down on your hips and also the movement of your legs.
Here are a few teaching points:
- Move each leg very slowly with control
- Breathe Out as you bring the knee to the elbow, breathe In as it returns
- Keep the hips as tight and still as possible
- Keep the hips down forming a straight line from shoulder to heel
- Actively Contract your abs as you bring your knee up
How Many Reps?
My advice would be to start by performing 10 reps in total, alternating sides each time. If you find that 10 is too much, especially later on in the workout, then cut it down to 8 or 6.
If you find 10 is too easy then increase the total up to a max of 20. Just remember the slower each rep the better 🙂
Making the Exercise Easier and Harder
If you find the exercise too difficult then you should practice the movement but touch your toe down next to your elbow with each rep. Touching down your toe with hugely reduce the demand placed on your core muscles.
To make the exercise more difficult, focus on technique, keep everything still except the moving leg and increase the reps. Keep them very slow!
Here’s a Video Demonstrating the Slow Mountain Climber:
Exercise No #2 – Side Plank With Rotation
The side plank works the muscles down the side of your body and by adding a rotation you further challenge your core stability. Like the slow mountain climbers gravity is pushing down on you as you post up into the side plank position.
Here are my teaching points:
- Ensure the elbow is underneath the armpit
- Keep the hips high and at 90 degree to the ground
- The other arm can either lay along the body or point upwards
- Breathing normally, don’t hold your breath
- During rotation reach through in line with your shoulder
How Many Reps?
Start with 5 reps per side. Keep them controlled and slow. If you find 5 reps too easy then increase them to a maximum of 10 reps per side.
If you find 5 reps too difficult then you can reduce them down to 3 reps.
Making the Exercise Easier
If you find this side plank with rotation too tricky then you can just hold the side plank and forget about the rotation part. Hold the side plank and count to 10, slowly.
Here’s a Video of the Side Plank with Rotation:
Exercise No #3 – The Dead Bug
The dead bug is a tricky exercise that works on Pelvic Stability. As you lie on your back and lower alternating arms and legs the weight of the leg wants to rotate your pelvis. Your core muscles are responsible for preventing your pelvis from moving. So of all the 3 exercises this is the one where you will need to really concentrate on the core stability of your pelvis.
It is VERY important that you prevent your lower back from arching during this exercise!
Here are my teaching points:
- Ensure the Lower back does not arch during the exercise
- Only lower the leg as far as you can maintain your lower back on the ground
- Breathe IN as you lower and OUT as you return
- Move very slowly and controlled
How many reps?
The main goal is 10 total reps alternating sides. If you find this too easy then increase up to a maximum of 20.
If you find this too tough then reduce down to only 6 or 8 total reps.
Making the Exercise Easier
For many people maintaining contact with the ground with their lower back is extremely difficult. If this is the case for you then you need to do the following:
- Reduce the distance you lower each leg to maybe only half way
- Bend the leg rather than keeping it straight
- Don’t lower the arms at the same time
- Monitor your lower back by placing your finger tips under your lower back
- As you lower your leg if you feel your lower back arch then you must stop
Here’s a Video of the Dead Bug:
Time to Get Started
OK, there you have it, my 7 minute core and abs triple workout. Give it a try for the next month and see how you get on.
Try to increase the amount of reps that you perform for each exercise each week. So you could try:
- Week 1 – Mountain Climber 10 reps / Side Plank with Rotation 5 reps each / Dead Bugs 10 reps
- Week 2 – Mountain Climber 12 reps / Side Plank with Rotation 6 reps each / Dead Bugs 12 reps
- Week 3 – Mountain Climber 16 reps / Side Plank with Rotation 8 reps each / Dead Bugs 16 reps
- Week 4 – Mountain Climber 20 reps / Side Plank with Rotation 10 reps each / Dead Bugs 20 reps
Most of all build an exercise habit. Try to perform this workout 3 times per week. Take your time and concentrate on ‘how it feels’ and your technique!
Are you willing to give it a go? Comments welcome below….