Friday, May 8, 2009

Beyond the Crunch

After working in gyms for over a decade, I am still amazed at the number of people "crunching" away in search of the "holy six-pack". Well, I haven't seen my abs since Color Me Bad topped the charts, but it really doesn't have much to do with my core stability or strength. In fact, my core is stronger than ever at the ripe old age of 42.  I ski the steeps of Alta with ease, can crank out 75 push ups in a perfect plank, and can do a double somersault with a one half twist landing in perfect form (OK, I'm BS'ing you on the last one).

Never- the- less,  my six-pack is covered in a "nice' layer of padding and unless I take the advice I am about to dispense, I'll never see my six pack again- Is that so wrong?

For those in search of abs of steel, let clear up a few things:
  • Spot Reducing Does Not Work- I know that I sound like a "broken record" (for those of you under 30, that means repeating ones self). Fact: any strength training of the core builds the underlying musculature. It does not get rid of the overlying fat.
  • But....if you do want a six pack, strengthening is important so that the musculature is exposed and defined once the body fat is lost.
  • Core Training should include the entire core-obliques, rectus abdominus, multifidus, erector spinae, quadratus, etc. That means exercises like bridging, chops, rotations, extension and flexion of the spine.
  • DIET IS KEY- To see the "six pack" men need to be less than 10% body fat and women less that 19% give or take.
So there you have it- the skinny on ripped abs.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Stretching Good or Bad?

Did you know that the latest research demonstrates that static stretching may not be best performed before activity? Surprising, huh? But think about it; how many times have you seen a boxer sit down in the middle of the ring before a prize fight and perform a static hamstring stretch? Let me guess....never. Here is what they do: bounce from left to right on their toes, swing their arms and shadow boxing-all forms of dynamic stretching and warm up.

Here's what we have learned over the last several years. Dynamically stretching before activity is important-Five Star Fitness Boot Camp vets know what this means: Butt Kickers, High Knees, Side Shuffles, Jack Squats, med ball tosses etc. Static stretching is reserved for the end of the workout.

Remember this: Dynamic Warm prepares the muscle for activity. Static Stretching prepares the muscle for rest.