Archive for the ‘Core Strength’ Category

Over 50’s Fitness by Glen Barnett – Core & Your Pelvic Floor

February 9, 2016


Today I would like to give you some really simple tips on how to work your core muscles that anyone can do and no one will know you’re doing it!

Firstly, always think pelvic floor first when you are activating your core.  The pelvic floor is like a sling or hammock that runs from your public bone, between your legs and inserts up near your tail bone. Its job is to keep all your bits in place eg control the flow of your bladder and bowel movements, lift the scrotum and vaginal muscles and help stop you having a prolapse of any of the above.  Very important muscle but one that often gets forgotten.

Here are a couple of simple ways you can incorporate pelvic floor activation into your everyday life.  Firstly sit straight on a chair and it will help you if you imagine you are naked and the chair is made of cold steel.  Yep that’s right you straight away want to lift your bits don’t you!  So for men ‘lifting your bits’ is a little easier they just need to lift their scrotum and there is their pelvic floor activation!  For ladies imagine you have a full bladder or bowel and you need to hold on to it while you are sitting on that cold, cold steel.

Don’t worry about counting repetitions.   Just simply lift, pulse the lift, hold the lift even put some music on and ‘dance’ your pelvic floor lifting to the music.  Once you have the action happening, try it while you are standing in the supermarket aisle, at the traffic lights and during commercial breaks!  Now the only thing you need to do is check when you activate your pelvic floor you’re not squeezing your butt muscles. Try lifting your pelvic floor when you stand up, lift something, sneeze, cough etc. It will make a massive difference to you in more ways than one.

So next time you are at the supermarket and you see someone standing there with this faraway look in their eyes you will know what they are concentrating on ….  ☺ Give Glen or Jacqui a call at Coffs Coast Health Club on 66586222 if you need some more guidance.

For Women Only – The 3 Weakest Muscle Groups

February 22, 2015

1. Your Chest

One of the most common weight room stereotypes: That pecs are a “guy thing.” Women naturally have a smaller ratio of muscle-to-fat in their chests compared with men. Unfortunately, this means that many women get frustrated with chest-strengthening exercises and either forgo them entirely or do them with improper form, according to Montenegro.

Think about it: How many times have you collapsed mid push-up and thought, “I’m strong! Why can’t I do this?” It’s because most women actually have to train in order to do what, for men, may seem easy.

Strength Training For Women

Strengthen It: The Eccentric Bench Press and Push-Up

To master this move, prepare to slow down and put the emphasis on the eccentric (downward) motion rather than the press upwards. (You can even have someone else raise the barbell for you.) This actually works your chest more intensely than a standard bench press, since your muscles get stronger moving eccentrically than concentrically. Plus, it trains your underlying core muscles (more on that later), and your triceps, which are naturally small and tend to tucker out even before your larger chest muscles do.

How to: Lay flat on a bench, holding a barbell just above your chest, elbows positioned near the sides of your body. Your palms should be facing up, hands chest-width apart. Press the barbell directly upwards until arms are fully extended (or have a spotter help you lift it), and then slowly lower it back down to your chest for a count of four to five seconds. Perform three to four sets of eight to 10 reps each week.

For a bodyweight-only option, push-ups are another complex movement that will hit the chest muscles (in addition to the shoulders, arms and core). Complete the standard variation, or try incline (hands elevated) and decline (feet elevated), Montenegro suggests. That will help you train multiple areas within your pectoralis muscles. Once a week, complete three to four sets of as many reps of as you can manage with proper form.

2. Your Hamstrings

Many women are all about leg extensions, squats, lunges — and, of course, spinning —when they work out. And while they can all help strengthen your lower body, they emphasize the quadriceps more than they do the hammies, Montenegro says. “Women’s quadriceps actually tend to be about twice as strong as their hamstrings,” she says. Add in high heels and things can get more uneven; wearing pumps transfers your body weight forward, so your quadriceps work harder with every step.

This imbalance can make women vulnerable to knee injuries — especially since their knees are already under a lot of pressure. Women’s pelvises are naturally wider than men’s, meaning that the femur, which attaches to the pelvis and knee, doesn’t go straight up-and-down, but slants so that body forms an “X” shape, she explains. Add that to the fact that monthly spikes in your estrogen levels can make joints more flexible, and there’s no option but to strengthen your hammies in order to protect your knees.

Strength Training for Women

Strengthen It: The Dumbbell Single-Leg Deadlift

“One of the best exercise to work the hamstrings is the dumbbell single-leg deadlift,” Montenegro says. As you progress, you can perform barbell deadlifts to further train your hamstrings while also strengthening your lower back and glutes.

How to: Stand with feet together, knees slightly bent, holding a dumbbell in the right hand. Keeping your back flat, begin to lean forward, hinging at the hip. Squeeze your left glute and hamstring and extend your right leg straight out behind you for balance. Your right arm will be perpendicular to your right leg. Return to starting position, switch sides. Shoot for three to four sets of eight reps on each side every week.

3. Your Core

Women’s bodies are built to be able to squeeze out a baby, meaning that the ligaments and tendons in your hips are more elastic and loose than those of the average guy, Montenegro says. Plus, ladies have a larger lumbar (low back) curve. So, to maintain correct posture, you need a killer core.

Unfortunately, most women don’t have the strong midsection they need. While there may be plenty of “core-sculpting” of the (look at me!) abdominal muscles (often through crunch and crunch variations), these movements don’t give their deep, stabilizing muscles the attention they need, she says. Those internal muscles are what is going to keep you upright and help you power through everything from running to kickboxing.

Strength Training for Women

Strengthen It: The Plank (left) and the Bird-Dog (right)

Your core is so important, we’ve got two moves for you to try. Plank it up with side and front variations of the core-strengthening exercise, or try the bird-dog, which is awesome for your back, Montenegro says.

Plank How-to: For the plank, support yourself on your forearms, keeping your shoulders over your elbows, knees up, butt down and back flat. Want to hit all areas of your midsection? Add in the side plank, where you’ll support yourself on one forearm, body angled to the side and knees lifted. With your chest open, raise your other forearm raised straight above your body. Once per week, complete each plank variation three times, holding the position for 30 seconds and working up to 60.

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Over 50’s Fitness by Glen Barnett – Benefits of Tai Chi

December 16, 2014

Tai Chi is a low impact, relaxing form of exercise that has been described as the ‘longevity exercise’ for its health benefits. It blends mental, spiritual and physical aspects into 19 movements and one pose.
Tai Chi devotees can be seen in the park, at the beach and in many fitness environments and health care facilities.    Tai Chi is traditionally done standing but can be adjusted for those who need to remain seated. It requires no equipment, nor a special environment. If you can’t get to a class there are many good Tai Chi videos on You Tube to teach you, so you can do Tai Chi in your own home.
Some of its health benefits include:

Relieves mental and physical stress
Promotes deeper breathing
Improves lower body strength and stamina
Reduces arthritis pain
Reduces blood pressure
Requires mind and body integration through mental imagery
Helps release endorphins (our happy hormones) rather than depleting them
Improves concentration and alertness
Improves balance and lower body stability

The structure of Tai Chi helps you stay focused and it becomes a therapeutic series of flowing movements that create peace and harmony throughout your body and mind.   It follows the 70% rule which means you only do 70% of what you can do. This rule of moderation is especially important for some older adults whose bodies aren’t able to recover as quickly from strains or overuse injuries.
If you are recovering from injury and thinking of taking up a form of exercise, Tai Chi may be a good stepping stone for you. By following the 70% rule you will give your body a chance to heal and to regain mobility. From there don’t let your Tai Chi sessions slip away, instead let it become the curative compliment to your more strenuous daily or weekly activities.
Balance can become an issue as we age which can result in a lack of physical confidence.  Tai Chi in conjunction with other forms of strength and weight shifting exercises, will help your balance, coordination and confidence.  Focusing on energy flow to and from your legs will improve your strength and mobility.  This combined with the rhythmic gentle breathing Tai Chi promotes makes it a very restorative form of exercise much needed in today’s rushed and frantic world.   We often assume if we are not huffing and puffing we are not doing much for our bodies. Regular Tai Chi will do a whole lot more for you than you may realise.  As Confucius said “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated”.
If you’d like to gain more out of your life then call Glen or Jacqui at Coffs Coast Health Club on 66586222 for a free session.

Over 50’s Fitness by Glen Barnett – Top 10 Health Tips (Part Two)

November 18, 2014

laughter_600x450I hope you got a lot out of my Top 4 health and fitness tips from last week.  Here are my other top 6 tips. They may not all be your cup of tea but they are worth pondering to see if they can make a difference in your world, or may make a difference to someone you know who needs a bit of help,  a good kick in the butt or a wake up call.

Exercise your mind – it’s a muscle too.
Exercise those neural pathways and learn something new
Overcome frustration when you’re surfing the net, posting on Face Book, Twittering or even checking you email in box – your brain enjoys the challenge.
If you haven’t explored or haven’t a clue what I’m talking about in that previous point then enrol in a computer course today.
Don’t forget good old crosswords, Sudoku and scrabble to keep your brain from atrophying.

Get Educated and take control of what is going on for you.
Got a health issue?  Understand it so you can be the final decision maker in any treatment that you need rather than being lead along a blinkered path.
Ask questions.
Get clarification.

Don’t focus on what you can’t do, focus on what you can do and then build on them.  Things may seem tough and get you down but take this into consideration:
Remember there’s always someone worse off than you that wishes they could do what you can do, so cherish the things you can do.

Choose your attitude – you can choose to have a bad day or you can choose to have great day.
Having a bad day? Someone else is having a worse one.
Choosing to have a good day could be the simple choice of wearing a frown or a smile.

Dance, laugh and sing regularly and feel those endorphins flood your soul.
“You don’t stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing (or dancing, or singing).”
Give It a try – you want regret it.

Make sure every day when you leave your house you have remembered the most important but often forgotten thing to wear – your smile.
Wear a smile and have friends, wear a frown and have wrinkles.
We would love to see you down at Coffs Coast Health Club so why not give Glen a call on 66586222 and come on in for a free class or session.

Ways to Boost Your Exercise Motivation

July 20, 2014


Debbe Geiger could summarize her feelings about exercise in two words. “It stinks,” she’d say.

But then her thinking changed when — after much urging from friends who wanted her to play with them — she joined a volleyball team. Now, she’s at the gym with a convert’s fervor on game nights because she doesn’t want to let her teammates down.

“There have been lots of reasons I could have missed, and I haven’t,” says Geiger of Cary, N.C.

Her experience illustrates what exercise experts have known for years: To stick with an exercise routine, you need a reason to carry on when that little voice inside says, “Sit on the couch. Have a doughnut.”

And just knowing that exercise is good for you doesn’t seem to be enough to get you moving.

 Carla Sottovia, assistant director of fitness at the Cooper Fitness Institute in Dallas, says, “You may have had a bad experience in school, or maybe you’re afraid you’ll hurt yourself. Maybe you’re even afraid to sweat.”

Intimidation is a factor also, experts say. When you’re out of shape, it takes courage to don workout duds and head for the gym.

If any of this sounds familiar, don’t give up hope. Here are fitness inspiration tips from fitness experts and exercise converts that are guaranteed to help you learn how to love moving.

 Be Realistic

First-time exercisers often set unrealistic goals that are too ambitious for beginners. Gerald Endress, fitness director of the Duke Diet and Fitness Center in Durham, N.C. says, “They want to go for maximal goals, but they tend to get overwhelmed.”

So don’t start off trying to work out an hour every day. Instead, set more reasonable, achievable goals, like exercising 20 to 30 minutes two or three times a week.

Keep Track of Your Progress

Remember to chart your progress, whether it’s with a high-tech online tracker or an old-school fitness journal. Seeing incremental improvements, whether it’s improved time, increased reps, or greater frequency of workouts, can boost your exercise motivation.

Don’t Expect Perfection

Another pitfall is all-or-nothing thinking, a perfectionist way of looking at life that leads to giving up when you miss a day or two or your workout doesn’t go well. Endress says if you accept that there will be some sidesteps on your fitness journey, you’ll be better prepared mentally to deal with setbacks.

Expect that you’ll get sick from time to time, and be psychologically prepared to miss a few days of exercise when that happens. Don’t let it be an excuse for giving up. “From then on, many people say, ‘I can’t exercise,'” Endress says. “But there’s always a way to exercise.”

To keep injuries from sidelining you, do your best to prevent them by warming up, cooling down, stretching properly, and not doing too much too soon.

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

 We’ve all seen those toned, fatless specimens who strut through the gym in their Barbie-sized shorts and sports bras.

Don’t compare yourself to them, Endress says. Forget about them. Forgive them. But do not let them deter you from your goal.

Get Support

Enlist the help of your spouse, girlfriends, boyfriends, buddies — anyone who will encourage you to stay on track.

“The person should be in support, but not say, ‘Why can’t you? It’s so easy,'” says Sottovia. If helpful reassurance turns into criticism, gently remind your pal that you don’t need nagging.

 If you need additional help, hire a trainer, she advises.

Find the Fun In It

Sottovia and Endress both say it’s essential to find an activity you like. With an explosion in the number and types of fitness classes at most gyms, it has become easier to find something to appeal to you, from aerobics to Zumba.

If you’re not the gym type, walk around your neighborhood or try activities around the house, such as walking up and down stairs or dancing with the stars in your living room. If you’re motivated by being social, follow Geiger’s lead and join a team.

Break It Up

You can make it easier on yourself by splitting your exercise session into two or three sessions, says Endress. Research supports the idea that this can be as beneficial as one long workout, he says.

So, for example, if you don’t feel like exercising for an hour on any given day, do three sessions of 20 minutes each.

Make It Convenient

Do whatever you can to remove obstacles to exercise, and make it as convenient as possible, says Sottovia.

If you are time-pressed, for example, don’t spend 30 minutes driving to a gym. Try exercising at home to fitness DVDs instead. If you’re too tired to work out at the end of the day, set your alarm a little earlier and exercise in the morning.

Forget the Past

Don’t let previous bad experiences with exercise hinder you, Sottovia says.

So maybe you weren’t the most athletic kid in high school and were the last chosen for class games. That was years ago. Your goal now is not to win a letter jacket or make the cheerleading squad — you want to exercise to stay healthy and enjoy your life.

Reward Yourself

Treat yourself for making the effort to exercise — not with food, but with something that you enjoy, like a movie or flowers, says Endress

Try to think of indulgences that will reinforce a mind-body connection so you can savor the rewards of your hard work. Plan a short trip, or just an hour in a botanical garden. Go to a ball game. And remind yourself with each precious moment that you are enjoying this time because of all the great things you have been doing for yourself.


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Active seniors can lower heart attack risk by doing more, not less

May 20, 2014

Maintaining or boosting your physical activity after age 65 can improve your heart’s electrical well-being and lower your risk of heart attack, according to a study in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.senior

In heart monitor recordings taken over five years, researchers found that people who walked more and faster and had more physically active leisure time had fewer irregular heart rhythms and greater heart rate variability than those who were less active.

Heart rate variability is differences in the time between one heartbeat and the next during everyday life.

“These small differences are influenced by the health of the heart and the nervous system that regulates the heart,” said Luisa Soares-Miranda, Ph.D., lead author of the study and a researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and the Faculty of Sport at the University of Porto in Portugal. “Early abnormalities in this system are picked up by changes in heart rate variability, and these changes predict the risk of future heart attacks and death.”

The researchers evaluated 24-hour heart monitor recordings of 985 adults (average age 71 at baseline) participating in the community-based Cardiovascular Health Study, a large study of heart disease risk factors in people 65 and older.

During the study, they found:

  • The more physical activity people engaged in, the better their heart rate variability.
  • Participants who increased their walking distance or pace during the five years had better heart rate variability than those who reduced how much or how fast they walked.

“Any physical activity is better than none, but maintaining or increasing your activity has added heart benefits as you age,” Soares-Miranda said. “Our results also suggest that these certain beneficial changes that occur may be reduced when physical activity is reduced.”

The researchers calculated that the difference between the highest and lowest levels of physical activity would translate into an estimated 11 percent lower risk of heart attack or sudden cardiac death.

“So if you feel comfortable with your usual physical activity, do not slow down as you get older—try to walk an extra block or walk at a faster pace,” Soares-Miranda said. “If you’re not physically active, it is never too late to start.”


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Cyclists, Time on the Mat Means Longer on the Road

May 13, 2014

indexWhy should road cyclists? They don’t require the flexibility of dancers, golfers or tennis players. There’s no leaping, twisting or lunging in cycling, just hours spent locked in a flexed position craning the head to gaze forwards.

I may have answered my own question but the simple answer is comfort. Most cyclists are all too familiar with nagging lower backache. It can cut short a ride or even force riders off their bikes and on to the physio’s couch.

The discomfort might be higher, around the trapezius or neck muscles as the upper body is braced for long periods over the handlebars. Or lower, as the glutes or quads contract and shorten after hours of hard pedaling.

Road cycling is a rush. There is no feeling in the world like having the wind in your face on a cold, crisp sunny day as the fields fly by. But a body held in the cycling stance needs regular rebalancing to maintain comfort and prevent injury.

The obvious benefit of yoga is to stretch out tight hamstrings, glutes or quads in order to both avoid injury and create a level of riding comfort. By restoring muscle length cyclists can ‘reset’ the body and feel fresh and ready to ride again.

But that’s not the whole story. Here’s four more reasons why 20 minutes of yoga, two or three times a week, will keep cyclists riding stronger, for longer:

1. Spinal Extension – Yoga’s gentle backbends ease the spine from the flexed cycling position into extension. Backbends also open the front of the body, stretching the chest, or pectoral muscles that shorten over time while riding. Think Sphinx pose, though, rather than Wheel and monitor the back carefully.

2. Lateral Movement – Cyclists operate in a forwards-only or sagittal plane of motion and strive for upper body stillness. This often leads to tightness in the stabilizing muscles of the outer hips as well as the IT band. Lateral, or sideways movements like Triangle provide a deeply satisfying stretch.

3. Lower Back Relief – Sinking into Extended Child’s Pose, post-ride will ease out the lower back (and shoulder) muscles. Add some strengthening postures like Locust in between rides to reinforce the lumbar region, an area vulnerable to injury in the cycling stance.

4. Core Strength – A strong core is vital for posture, power, injury prevention and comfort. Most road cyclists have weak…


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