Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Core strength

I used to love doing core strength. It was definitely my favorite workout in college, I would get to practice after chemistry lab, where things would never have gone right, and I was lighting things on fire (accidentally! I swear!) and the stupid gen chem experiments that are supposed to be fool-proof never worked right, and my lab partner (his name was chewy. like in star wars.) was no help whatsoever, since he always came to lab stoned, and in general it was just a very frustrating time. So I would come to practice and we would be whipping medicine balls at each other and it was a really fantastic way to let off steam. Unfortunately, you can't huck medballs around if there is nobody to catch them, or if you don't have a cement wall, neither of which I have. One summer in VT, I spent my core strength sessions throwing chunks of firewood from one pile to another, alternating sides, but for some reason I felt really stupid doing that, and it was lacking the satisfaction that I'd get from a medicine ball.

I have since developed a little routine of core strength stuff that you can do on your own, and I figured I'd share it, since maybe there are people out there who need some motivation to do core strength, and a new routine might be just the ticket! I use my pink bouncy ball (I suppose other colors would work too. I just like that mine is pink) and a medicine ball, but you could use any ~10lb weight for the ball, since you aren't actually throwing it. If you're a cyclist, this might make you sore, heck if you're a skier this might make you sore too. But its a good sore!

The premise is that you do a circuit of 12 stations, and at each one you do the exercise for one minute, and then you get 30 seconds to switch to the other station and get set up for the next exercise. You do this circuit three times. Then you finish with a fun little thing called "8-minute abs", which is, unsurprisingly, eight minutes of abdominal exercises. This brings you to a nice round one hour of strength, with 45 minutes of active time, which is short enough that you can do it in the morning, but long enough that you're actually doing something. Yay! I should probably say something like don't start an exercise program without consulting your doctor, and don't sue me if you hurt yourself, thats your own damn fault.

The circuit: I've drawn some beautiful pictures in paint (I love drawing in paint...), hopefully they're helpful and informative rather than confusing.

1. Medicine ball twists - Sit on your butt, bend your knees, and lift your feet off the floor. Holding the medicine ball in front of you, twist so that the ball touches one side, then twist so it touches the other. Do it for a minute.
2. Lunges holding a medicine ball - as you lunge, move the ball from your chest to above your head with straight arms. As you stand back up, lower the ball back to your chest.
3. Pushups with your hands on the bouncy ball. You'll probably only be able to do 20 of these or so in a minute. Don't be ashamed.

4. Back plank roll-outs - Lie on your back, with your feet on the bouncy ball. Lift your body up so that you are supported by your feet (on the ball) and your shoulders (on the ground), and your body is straight. Bend your knees, rolling the ball towards you, then straighten your legs back out, rolling the ball back.
5. V-ups with a medicine ball - The ball stays over your head at all times. Start on your back with your arms and legs straight (arms above your head) but not touching the ground. Sit up, keeping them straight, and keeping the ball over your head.
6. Tuck jumps - starting in a squat, jump as high as you can, bringing your knees up.
7. Pushups with one hand on the medicine ball - Put one hand on the floor, and one on the medicine ball. Do five pushups like that, then roll the ball to your other hand, and do five pushups. Keep switching every five.

8. Back-ups - Hook your feet under something (the couch. the refrigerator. whatever). Facing downwards, put the bouncy ball under your hips, and hold the medicine ball over your head. Lift your upper body up and down, keeping medball over your head.
9. Front plank roll-outs - Assume a pushup position with your feet on the bouncy ball. Keeping your back as level as possible, bend your knees to roll the ball towards you, then straighten your legs and roll the ball back out. To make it extra hard, keep rolling the ball out behind you until your hands are way out in front of you.
10. Chair squats - Stand on a chair on one leg. Squat down on that leg and then back up.

11. Pushup twists - Do a pushup, and when you get to the up position, twist your body and lift your upper hand to do a side plank. Then go back to the pushup position, do a pushup, and twist to the other side.
12. Supermans with a medball - Lie on your stomach. Lift your shoulders and feet (with straight legs) off of the ground. Hold a medicine ball out in front of you. bounce it on the ground.

Eight-minute abs is where you do a minute of each type of exercise for eight minutes, and you don't stop at all during the eight minutes. It might burn, but eventually you get used to it.
1. Front plank
2. Tuck-ups
3. Dying bug (I've heard this called a dead bug, but really, the bug is in the process of dying, if it were already dead, you wouldn't be moving, would you?). Make sure you keep the small of your back pressed against the floor while you do this one.
4. Side plank (right)
5. Side plank (left)
6. Flutters
7. Crunches
8. Bu-fu's

These are all just suggestions, you can mix it up any way you like. I like to do a rotation of abs, arms, legs, back, but you can change that too. Hopefully this gets you all motivated to get a strong core!


Luke S said...

That sounds like a very good workout. I'll have to try it sometime. I did my first super set today, it was hard.

Anonymous said...

Hey!! I enjoy doing core strength too and medicine balls really help me let the steam out. The exercises that you have mentioned seem pretty good. Last few days I had been traveling like crazy and did not get much time to exercise. Just let me warm a little for a day or two and then I’ll try all the workouts mentioned in the post. They look quite interesting. Thanks for taking pains!!

Cathy said...

Forget the exercise - LOVE the drawings! You have a new career ahead of you ;).

Alex said...

I love me some stick figures...

Colin R said...

This post was just (accurately) labeled possibly the greatest blog post of all time: http://solobreak.blogspot.com/

I should do more core.

Luke S said...

Monday night core, Wednesday Friday lifting.