Sculpt Your Core The Correct Way

Sculpt Your Core The Correct Way 

Just to reiterate. There is no such thing as “spot reduction”. The key to revealing your six-pack and lose fat from your midsection is to reduce overall body fat by following a strict regimen of full body exercises, adequate cardio, and a healthy diet. With that being said, spending 5-10 minutes on core specific exercises can help strengthen your entire core, which is the foundation to functional strength. Here is a great body-weight routine to start your workout that I have been using over the past few weeks to strengthen the core and also to get the blood flowing to all muscle groups in preparation for a workout.

1. Forearm Plank To Pushup Plank

Step 1: Get down into a plank position, preferably on an exercise mat or matted floor. Extend your body to its full length, so that your toes are touching the floor at one end and you are resting on your forearms at the other. Your back should be  straight and your butt down, in line with the rest of your body.

Step 2: Moving one arm at a time, left yourself up into a standard push-up position. Keep your back straight and your abdominal muscles tight.

Step 3: Once you reach the push-up position, move one arm at a time back into the starting plank position. Repeat the exercise for  eight to 12 repetitions (per arm), alternating which arm you move first between positions.

2. Side Plank Variation

Step 1: Get into side plank position on your right forearm with your hips up and a straight line between your head and ankles.

Step 2: With your left hand behind your head and that elbow pointed up, slowly twist at the waist until your torso makes a 90-degree turn and your left elbow touches the floor.

Step 3: Try to make sure the rotation comes from the upper torso and the thoracic spine. Complete for 10-15 reps. Repeat for each opposite side.

3. Spider Man Pushups

Step 1: Assume the standard pushup position, with core and glutes tight.

Step 2: As you lower your body toward the floor, lift your right foot off the floor, swing your right leg out sideways, and try to touch your knee to your elbow.

Step 3: Reverse the movement, then push your body back to the starting position.

Step 4: Repeat, but on your next repetition, touch your left knee to your left elbow. Continue to alternate back and forth for 10 reps/leg

4. Advanced Bird Dog

Step 1: Position yourself on your hands and knees on a comfortable surface.

Step 2: Lift left leg and right arm off the mat and extend outwards, away from each other in a “superman-like” position. (Or is it captain america?)

Step 3: Bring leg and arm back into neutral position but instead of grounding them bring your elbow in to touch your knee to create a crunch.

Step 4: Repeat motion for 10-20 reps for each side.

5. V-ups

Step 1: Lie face up on the floor with your legs and arms straight.

Step 2: Hold your arms straight above the top of your head. In one movement, simultaneously lift your torso and legs as if you’re trying to touch your toes.

Step 3: Lower your body back to the starting position. Repeat for 12-15 controlled reps.

6. Leg Raise Iso holds

Step 1: Lie on a bench on your back with your butt at the edge of the bench and legs extended out.  Hands  can be placed under your low back for support, or holding onto the bench.

Step 2: Raise legs 6-12 inches above parallel( at about a 30 degree angl)  and engage your hip flexors and lower abs.

Step 3: Hold for 30-60 seconds. (To make it more challenging place a 10 lb weight in between your feet as pictured above.)

7. Bicycle Iso Holds

Step 1: Lie supine on the floor with your hips and knees bent to 90 degrees and your feet off the floor. Place your fingers lightly behind your head for support or behind your ears. Do not pull on your head. Allow your elbows to flare out from your ears.

Step 2: Exhale and lift your right shoulder toward your left knee as your extend your right leg away from you and hold for a 3 second count with the core engaged.

Step 3: In a fluid motion repeat, alternating sides in a bicycle motion. Complete 10 reps/side for a 60 second exercise.

Thanks to everyone who has been reading and leaving comments. Please let me know if you have any questions.

From South Bend,

The 5 Exercise Mistakes You Could Be Making

The 5 Exercise Mistakes You Could Be Making

1.You are a victim of routine and habit:

Muscle memory is no myth. If you perform the same exercises and workouts every week, with no variation, your muscles will grow accustomed with them overtime and your fitness goals will severely plateau. Repitition of exercises allows the brain to become “hard-wired” with a simple, efficient circuitry that enables the activity. The brain and muscles no longer have to work hard to make that particular movement happen, so the activity “feels easy” to you, as if it were second nature.

My suggestion: Switch it up

  • I am all for getting in and sticking to a set routine, however, if you want to see progression in your fitness goals, whether it is bigger strength gains or more fat loss, vary your workouts/rep range/rest time.  You will see dramatic changes as your muscles will have to work harder to adapt to these new changes.

Great examples:

  1. Intervals vs. steady cardio. (see previous post for more specifics about this)
  2. Heavier weights with reps between 5 and 8 and allowing more rest in between rest.

2. You don’t get in a good warm-up:

The goal of any warm-up is to increase your heart rate, body temperature,. and blood flow to your muscles. The increase in these things will prepare you muscles and mind-set for the upcoming exercises. As a result, you will see better performance results and reduce chance of injury. Research over the last decade has shown static stretching cold muscles can actually inhibit performance and put you at greater risk of injury.

My suggestion: Perform movements that are specific to the exercises that will follow.

  • Activate the energy systems and muscles that are going to be required to complete your workout.
Great Examples:
  1. Jump Rope for 5 minutes- This gets both your legs and upper body involved at the same time.
  2. Dynamic stretch warm-up and not static stretching!-Do 5-10 minutes of dynamic movements that will get your blood flowing and major muscle groups activated. (bodyweight pushups, lunges, squats, or spider man crawls all work great)
3. You don’t do enough multi-joint movements:
Everyone wants more bang for their buck. So, why limit yourself to single joint movements or “isolated movements” when you can combine exercises and use multiple joints to build muscle, decrease fat, increase metabolic rate, and burn more calories, all at the same time.
My suggestion: Use multi-joint movements for the bulk or your exercises and supplement them with single joint movements.
  • Multi-joint movements will allow you to become a more functional and well conditioned athlete by using major muscle groups in conjunction with one another.
  • Supplementing multi joint movements with single joint movements will allow you to take care of the smaller and stabilizer muscles that can be overshadowed when doing multi-joint movements.
Great Examples:
  1. The old-fashioned back squat- Not only do squats activate all your lower body muscle group,  but it also activates your core muscles which are the foundation to your strength and posture. (utilizes knee,ankle, and hip joints)
  2. Dumbbell snatch- A great, functional exercise that utilizes major muscle groups such as your legs, core, and shoulders.

4. After all my suggestions you still do sit-ups:

Core is an essential component to a functional and strong body.Why is it that I continue to see people wasting time doing one of the most inefficient and outdated exercises today!

My suggestion: Trade in your old-fashioned sit ups for a core exercises that are more efficient

  • There still exists a common misconception that the key to a six-pack is by doing a bunch of sit-ups. False, the key to washboard abs is by losing stomach fat through a healthy(total body) exercise regimen and an all-natural diet.

Great Examples:

1. Plank on swiss ball- This exercise will force you to stabilize your core on an unbalanced surface.

2. Hanging leg raise- Targets your hipflexors and lower abs along with the rest of your core.

5. You don’t replenish your muscles after your workout:

“Approximately 30 minutes after intense exercise, the body optimizes its ability to replenish energy stores-particularly muscle and liver glycogen. This is also a critical time because the body instigates muscle protein synthesis for muscle tissue recovery and repair, replenishes fluids and electrolytes lost through sweat, and adapts to the stresses encountered in the workout.”

My Suggestion: Invest in a workout shaker and some tupperware.

  • Bringing a recovery powder to your workout will ensure you provide your muscles with adequate nutrition to fully recover immediately after finishing. Bringing some food in Tupperware is also a great way to ensure you are getting ample carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Depending on your sport and fitness goals, your post-workout shake should range from a 1:1 carb/protein ratio to 4:1 carb/protein  ratio if you are involved in more endurance activities and are trying to restore carbohydrate levels.

Great Example

1. 6oz of coconut water
6oz of unsweetened almond milk
1/2 c yogurt, 1 banana
1 c frozen strawberries/blueberries
1 scoop whey protein powder
3-5 grams glutamine

For all those interested in fat loss, check out my good friend’s website Kellie Kaufman at This may help you gain the edge and break through plateaus.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions or comments.

From Naples,