Sit Ups Are Bad for Your Back. 4 Core Exercises You Should Do Instead.

Hanging leg raises

Stop doing sit ups and crunches already! The value of sit ups is questionable for the health of your spine. And do they even train your core to be doing what it should be doing?

Answer is no.

And what should your core be doing? Protecting your spine (your back). You need to be able to move at the hips while keeping the torso stable. Essentially this means NOT moving your abs (like you would be doing sit ups and crunches), but holding your core stable in one place, while your legs and arms move around your core.

When exercising, lifting heavy, for sports, and for life in general, a stable core is crucial.

For your FREE PDF report of the equipment I use for core exercises CLICK HERE.

And guess what? Doing sit ups will not give you six pack abs (or 4 pack abs). Come to think of it, no exercise really gives you six pack abs except Table Push Aways!

For most women, you need to be sub 15% body fat to see ab outlines and for some (like me) probably closer to single digit body fat to see a 4 or 6 pack.

Regardless, everyone still needs a strong core.

What does “core” even mean? What does your “core” consist of? (I know that’s not proper English, but roll with me here…)

  • rectus abdominus
  • internal/external obliques
  • transverse abdominus
  • quadratus lumborum
  • erector spinae
  • lats
  • glutes
  • iliopsoas

and some others I probably missed…essentially your core is all the muscles of the torso in between the legs and arms!

So What’s So Bad About Sit Ups and Crunches Anyway?

  •  They stress the neck and back

As you flex your spine during a sit up, you are smooshing (technical term) your vertebral discs together. Repeating this movement hundreds and thousands of times can cause herniated discs and PAIN.

Although, I do believe that spinal flexion is normal human movement and should be part of our movement repertoire, there are certainly better options than the sit up for training your core.

  • They reinforce the sitting position–forward and rounded shoulders, forward neck and head, shortened tightened hip flexors. Most of us are in this position too much already.

Dr. Stuart McGill, who is an expert in spinal health has lots more to say on the subject of core training. I recommend you visit his website Backfitpro.com for access to his wisdom.

Why Do You Need to Incorporate Core Training into Your Workout Plan?

  • As already stated, to support/protect your spine
  • You need a strong core for quick direction changes, whether or not you consider yourself an athlete. You never know when you will need to dart away from a mugger or turn quickly to keep your child from running in front of a truck.
  • to resist movement–because you might end up in an MMA fight? No, because you might be spinning your baby in a circle or picking up a heavy box (or kettlebell!)
  • Because core training will make everything you do stronger and faster and more badass. And that’s what life is all about Being more Badass!

How to Incorporate Core Training Into Your Workout Plan

  1. Make sure that you can tighten your core to protect your spine. You must be able to do a plank without a sagging spine for a full minute, before you start lifting heavy weights.
  2. Focus on compound full-body exercises, like squats, deadlifts, and kettlebell swings. This  will help to get your body moving as one unit. Always engage your core (like you do in plank) during your lifts.
  3. Do single leg exercises like single leg deadlifts, and single leg squats. Your core has to work hard to stabilize you on one leg.
  4. Strengthen your glutes with glute bridges and hip thrusts (remember, glutes are part of your core).
  5. Train your core in all 3 dimensions. This means doing anti-extension, anti-rotation, and anti lateral flexion core exercises.

This requires core exercises that don’t just work the washboard muscles (rectus abdominus), but also exercises that strengthen the transverse abdominus, the obliques, the muscles of the back quadratus lumborum, erectors, and lats.

Soooo, yes, this means doing regular planks, side planks, and bird dogs, but don’t stop there. You MUST keep challenging yourself. Once a 30 second plank is easy, don’t simply extend your time in plank. That is not going to make you stronger! Do a more challenging variation or start adding weight!

4 Core Exercises You Should Be Doing Instead of Sit Ups

  • 2 point plank. (anti-extension)
  • Hanging leg raises. (anti-extension) For hanging leg raises, you’ll need a pull up bar. CLICK HERE to see the pull up bar I use at home.
  • Anti-rotation resistance band hold. Unlike I do in the video, hold your arms out at chest height in front of you. It makes it far more difficult.
  • kettlebell suitcase carry (anti-lateral flexion)

Don’t forget to download your FREE PDF report of the resistance bands and pull up bars I use. CLICK HERE

There are plenty more good core exercises and variations of the ones above. Start with these, and let me know how it goes for you and if you have any questions. I truly value your feedback.

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Workout Plan with Kids: Yes, Dammit, you can do it!

Workout plan with kids? Are you kidding me? My kids climb all over me, cry, yell, and pull crazy-ass stunts as soon as I break out the weights.

Here’s what I dealt with yesterday

Notice my surly, whiny tone of voice,” Is it my turn yet?” Attractive, I know.

Sister, I got no easy answers for you. None of the answers I do have work perfectly, nor do they work all the time, but here’s what I’ve got for you on accomplishing your workout plan with kids around, and I hope it helps.

1. You must have a strong commitment.

You have to know your WHY. Is your WHY burning fat, getting booty (a booty–getting some booty is for a whole different article!), reducing chronic pain, getting stronger, being able to do a pull up? You must be willing to sacrifice something to get what you want. If you’re not willing to sacrifice, then your WHY is not strong enough and you can just forget it. Seriously.

2.  Get creative.

I do most of my training and lifting weights at home. I don’t have tons of exercise equipment or weights at my disposal. (Believe me, a power rack and Olympic barbell is on my wish list). I have very little indoor space. I have a few kettlebells, some resistance bands, a Swiss ball, and a small barbell and weight plates. I get creative. I use the furniture, my kids, the swing set outside, and I do LOTS of body weight exercise.

3.  Break up your workout plan.

this is what is great about lifting weights and strength training. You do it in sets and can take breaks to attend to your children in between. Even if you have hours go by in between sets. IT’S OK! Be consistent and do something. You will still see and feel benefits.

4.  Do it during nap time.

5.  Get up early.

I know this one kinda sucks. All it should take though is 15-30 minutes earlier. Then, your workout is done and out of the way for the day.

6. Stay up later.

Yeah, this one kinda sucks too. But, try both this and #5 and see what works better for you.

7. Let your children cry

Ok, this one is the worst option, but I’ve done it. Not the most conducive to focus or happy for your children, but when you’re in the middle of a heavy or hard set, you really gotta finish.

8. Let them watch T.V.

9. Get your children to do exercise with you.

They will want to imitate you. You can encourage them by giving them light weights and versions of exercises that they can do. It’s really a great habit for them to learn, and a great way to spend time together as the children get older.

10. Get a babysitter!

What a novel concept! Then you can be totally uninterrupted and get a really focused training session in. If you are training for a competition or another goal with a deadline, this is really the option for your best workout.

Ok, so here’s what I got accomplished after B-boy rolled the barbell over his fingers, cried, and then was whisked away to his Big Sister’s hospital where he was cured.

Let me know how YOU manage to get your workout plan in with your children around. What are your tips and tricks?

Best Exercises for Shapely Glutes aka Big Beautiful Booty

Glutes. Butt. Ass. Bottom. Posterior. Rear-end. Derriere.

Ok. So if you’re reading this, you’re beyond thinking that you need to be skinny skinny skinny to be sexy.  A round, strong, shapely ass is pretty much number 1 in my book on sex appeal for both men and women.

Strong, muscled arms on a man–great–but if his jeans pockets are flat and saggy–sorry no can do!

But I digress. This is for us ladies who want a shapely, strong, booty.

Best Exercises for Shapely Glutes:

Deadlifts

Kettlebell swings

Single leg deadlift

Glute bridge/Hip thrust

Be aware that consistently doing these exercises may make your pants tighter in the booty! Trust me this is good. Make your booty bigger and in comparison your waist automatically looks smaller.

And no, it’s not just about how you look. Strong and functional hips and glutes will protect your lower back from injury and create explosive athletic power.

First, master the deadlift before moving on to the other exercises.

Deadlifts

Deadlifts strengthen your glutes, hamstrings, back and the whole posterior chain (back side of the body). Start with no added weight, then add in a kettlebell. Here, I use a 35lb ‘bell. Go as heavy as you can once you have the form mastered.

How to do it:

  • Stand slightly hip width apart with feet pointed straight ahead or slightly turned out.
  • Sit your butt back, not down creating a crease in the front of your hips.
  • Keeping your abs tight squeeze your butt and return to the start position.

Common Mistakes:

  • Knees caving in. Correct this by screwing your feet outward into the ground.
  • Rounding your back. Correct this by keeping your chest up, your eyes forward, and a slight arch in your lower back.
  • Squatting down instead of sitting back. Correct by leading with your butt moving back behind you. Don’t lead with your knees. You should feel at least a slight stretch in your hamstrings.

Get Glutes Part 2: Kettlebell swings

Get Glutes Part 3: Single leg deadlifts

Try the deadlift today and let me know how it goes. Talk to me below…

Step by Step Workout Plan for Getting Stronger

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The Workout Plan for getting stronger–Short Version

  1. Start today
  2. Lift something heavy
  3. Next time, lift something heavier
  4. Repeat

 

The Workout Plan for getting stronger–Long Version:

  1. Start with only 5 minutes per day and gradually increase your training time.
  2. Learn how to lift with proper technique whether you choose to lift barbells, kettlebells, or  body weight
  3. Start with a 5 minute warm up of jumping jacks, arm circles, and high knee stepping.
  4. Lift the heaviest weight you can lift correctly for 3 sets of 5 reps.
  5. Your workout plan should Include a pushing exercise, a pulling exercise, a core exercise, and a change of level exercise. You can include an explosive/ballistic exercise and a single leg exercise too if you have the time and desire. Can you do a plank? A full push up? If you can’t do a full push up, start with holding a plank for 15 seconds. Gradually increase your time to one minute. Then start doing push ups against the wall or on your knees. Need some more ideas? Check out the Beautiful Strength Bodyweight Workout.
  6. Allow your body time to recover in between training sessions.
  7. The next time you train lift more weight or make the exercise more challenging.
  8. Continue ad infinitum.
  9. KEEP IT SIMPLE. KEEP IT FUN.
  10. Consistency is key.
  11. Consistency is key.
  12. Consistency is key. (This means you actually have to DO it! Week after week, month after month to see results and continually improve.)

What is your next action? What are you going to do RIGHT NOW to move your Beautiful Booty forward? Talk to me below!