2012-01-20 / Columnists

The Good Stuff

Commentary By Brian Wolf

Welcome to the first installment of my monthly fitness column! New Year’s just came and went and almost everyone has made a commitment to start working out or to work out more. Bravo!! “Good Stuff” as I like to say. Why are you working out more? To look better? That’s great, but I think you will have more success if you are looking to feel better! That is what we all should be after ... To Feel Better.

Weight loss and health success come from making little steps. Let’s do something small every day to make ourselves feel better. Good idea right? Put down that piece of chocolate! Or that extra glass of wine. Those items are making you feel better temporarily. When you are reaching for those instant gratifications, think long term instead. I suggest that you start a feel good bank. Instead of reaching for that high calorie snack, do something to make yourself feel better in the future. Here is a great exercise that you can do every day that will strengthen your core. The Plank!

What is the core you say? The “core” consists of the muscles of the abdominals, torso and the lower back. It also includes the rectus abdominis (love this one), internal and external obliques, the erector spinae and a lot of stabilizer muscles of the spine. It is important that we work these muscles so we can draw energy from them and effectively transfer energy throughout the body. The bottom line is ... so you move better. The better you move the better you live.

I grew up and lifted weights for bodybuilding purposes, to look good, to be big.

There was nothing wrong with that, but what I have learned now is that it is better to train the core, and with movements. The way the body was built was for movement and to have a strong pillar to hold that machine up is most important. This way we live and move easier. Movement comes not from your legs but from your core!

An important muscle in the Core is the rectus abdominis. This muscle wraps around our spinal cord in a figure eight. It is an internal muscle so no matter what kind of shape you get in you will never see it. So what’s the deal with the rectus abdominis? It works like the roots of a tree, it gives us stability and strength so we are a little protected when WE DO EVERYTHING WRONG. In our everyday life we do almost everything wrong. We walk wrong (especially women, you carry a bag right?), we sit wrong, we sleep wrong, we carry things wrong, all on one side to keep one hand free to do things.

The core will protect you from these bad habits.

So how do you do the Plank? Lie face down on a mat resting on your forearms, palms flat on the floor.

Push off the floor, raising up onto your toes and resting on your forearms.

Keep your back flat in a straight line from head to heels.

Tilt your pelvis and contract your abdominals to prevent your rear from sticking up in the air or sagging in the middle, as I call, the lazy plank. Belly’s up

Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.

And there you have it. The PLANK. Something to make you feel good and something to make you better in the future. Now that’s GOOD STUFF!

If you have an idea about an upcoming article or a question, feel free to email me at Rockawayfitness@gmail.com. See you next month!!

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