Monday, February 9, 2009

Supplement Your Workout: Part II

I've written about David Zinczenko's 3 areas of focus for helping you get cut and lean. Exercising the big muscles and speed interval training are the first 2, this is the 3rd area of emphasis to focus on in your workout. I did them out of order, but notice the acronym ABS. Abdominals, Big muscles, Speed intervals. Like I said yesterday, work your big muscles 3 times a week with compound exercises in a circuit. Do speed intervals once a week on a non-strength training day. Do your ab exercises twice a week, preferably before your strength training workout. I've included 3 workout plans (beginner, intermediate, advanced) below that will only take a few minutes before your workout, and will really strengthen your core. These might feel a bit strange because you're not doing situps or crunches. Do them right and you'll see that they're super effective at shoring up those core muscles.

There are lots of reasons to strengthen your abs. Here are 3 big ones:
1. Abs protect you. Having a strong core is crucial to avoiding injury.
2. Abs prevent back pain. If you are weak in your abs, your leg and glute muscles have to compensate, and things really start getting out of whack.
3. Abs help you excel. Whether it's golf, tennis, basketball, baseball, or any other sport, a stronger core will give you better performance. Think of how your core muscles are involved in your golf swing. If you have good strength and stability, it'll improve your swing and your distance. You can find an application for any sport.

Beginner Workout

Exercise 1: Plank on elbows
Assume a pushup position, but with your elbows bent and your weight resting on your forearms. Your body should form a straight line. Now brace your abs as if someone were about to punch you in the gut. Hold for 30 seconds. Rest 30 seconds, and repeat once.

Exercise 2: Mountain climber with hands on bench
In pushup position with your hands on a bench, brace your abs and slowly lift your left knee toward your chest. Pause 2 seconds, lower it slowly, and then raise your right knee. Alternate for 30 seconds, rest 30, and repeat once.

Exercise 3: Side plank
Lie on your left side and prop your upper body up on your left forearm. Raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from ankles to shoulders. Now brace your abs and hold for 30 seconds. Roll over onto your right side and repeat. Rest 30 seconds, and do 1 more set.

2. Intermediate Workout

Exercise 1: Plank with feet elevated
Use the guidelines for the beginner version of the exercise, but with both of your feet on a bench.

Exercise 2: Mountain climber with hands on Swiss ball
Follow the beginner instructions, but place your hands on a Swiss ball instead of a bench.

Exercise 3: Side plank with feet elevated
Do this the same way as the beginner version, but with both of your feet on a bench.

3. Advanced Workout

Exercise 1: Extended plank
Do the beginner version, but place your weight on your hands, which should be positioned about 6 to 8 inches in front of your shoulders.

Exercise 2: Swiss-ball jackknife
In pushup position with your feet on a Swiss ball, raise your hips and pull the ball forward. Do 2 sets of 15 reps, with 30 seconds of rest.

Exercise 3: Single-leg side plank
Do the beginner version, but once you're in position, raise your top leg and keep it raised for the duration of the set.