Core-strength

How Fit Are You?

Have you ever wondered just how fit you actually are? A great Instagram shot in workout gear can be deceiving and a lot of us fall into the trap of thinking thin means fit – but that’s not always the case. On the contrary, it’s difficult to judge a persons fitness just by looking at them. Likewise, a lot of us don’t really know how fit we really are! So how fit are you?

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Unless you hit the gym religiously or run marathons, chances are you don’t actually know how fit you are. But don’t worry – we’ve got you covered! These simple at home tests are a sure fire way to judge your strength and overall fitness levels.

Ask yourself these questions:

Can you touch your toes?

Flexibility is an important part of fitness because it gives an insight into the strength of your muscles. If you can’t touch your toes while keeping your legs straight then you might not be in the best shape. Inability to reach your toes can indicate hamstring tightness, which is often symptomatic of inactivity. A lot of people working in offices have this problem because sedentary lifestyles can shorten your hamstrings.

Do you start sweating straight away during a workout?

Sweating early on in a workout can actually be a good sign that your fitness is on track. This is called ‘efficient sweating’ that happens when the body is accustomed to a workout. When you start sweating during a warm up your body anticipates the need to cool down and therefore starts sweating. However, keep in mind this could depend on the room’s temperature.

Do you watch TV before bed, but then can’t sleep?

The sleep hormone melatonin is kept in check by exercise. Being unable to sleep, even after long periods of relaxation, you might not be getting enough exercise. The same thing goes for if you find yourself constantly waking up for no reason.

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Can you stand up from a cross-legged position without using your hands?

It’s surprising how many people can’t do this. Sit on the floor cross-legged and raise yourself into a standing position without touching the ground or using your arms for support. If you can do this it indicates good core strength and balance.

If you work at a desk, do you get up and move around?

Not standing up, walking around or stretching at least once every hour could be compromising your overall health and fitness, or undoing any exercise you are doing. Your blood circulation can stagnate and your muscles can stop contracting if your not moving around.

Do you actively exercise more than twice a week?

Exercising more than twice week puts you in a pretty good position health and fitness wise. Up to five-hours of moderate exercise, or two and a half-hours of intense exercise can help prevent unhealthy weight gain and decrease your risk of developing some cancers while improving blood-pressure, cholesterol and bone and muscle strength.

So, how fit are you?

Image via fitday.com

August 15, 2015

5 Ways To Get A Killer Core

Former World Ironman champion Guy Leech has shared his top tips on how to strengthen and shred your core – sans the serious gym equipment. According to Leech, the much talked about “core” encompasses the entire, complex series of muscles that extend far beyond just the abs, this muscle group works to stabilise and support your body.

“While core strength is essential to correctly perform all sorts of strength training exercises, it is also very important when carrying out simple day-to-day activities and maintaining good posture and balance. A strong core can also help reduce the risk of back pain and injuries,” he says.

And these are Leech’s go-to exercises to get a killer core at home:

1. The plank

“The plank works the entire core including the upper and lower body muscles all at once,” Leech said. Simply lie down on your stomach, and then lift your body off the floor with your forearms and toes, while keeping your elbows at 90 degrees. Try to keep your body straight without arching your back. Leech explains that “the longer you can hold a plank, the stronger you will get, and the more resilient your lower back will be to injuries.”

2. V-sit hold

“This exercise is great as it not only works to strengthen the core, but also helps drastically improve balance,” Leech said. Start on your back, and then bend your legs and back up at the waist as you extend your legs and arms off the ground into the air to form a ‘V’. Hold this position for as long as you can. “For a slightly more advanced version, drop your legs closer to the ground and hold your feet a few centimetres off the floor for a few seconds, before releasing.”

3. Twisting crunch

As one of the most effective crunch workouts, the twisting crunch will target all your stomach muscles in one simple movement. Just assume a standard crunch position, and then raise your torso to a 45 degree angle from the floor, and then twist from side to side, each time driving the opposite elbow to the opposite knee. For an extra challenge, Leech suggests, “Try extending your legs and pretending to peddle a bicycle as you continue to twist.”

4. Ball roll-ins

Ball roll-ins are great to target the central and lower abdominal muscles. Start with your hands on the ground and the tops of your feet on the top of a large exercise ball. Keep your hands in place and bend at the knees to bring the ball up toward your chest. Hold this position for a second and slowly roll the ball back out. “With this one, it’s important to focus on squeezing your abs throughout the movement and avoid just using your hip flexors to pull the ball in,” Leech said.

5. Work in short bursts

The final tip, which can be applied to any kind of core exercise, is to execute every part of the movement ‘explosively’. Scientists have shown that performing abdominal exercises at a fast tempo activates more muscle than doing them slowly. “This is most likely because in order to speed your movements, your muscles are required to generate higher amounts of force,” Leech explains.

March 16, 2015