Summer and swimsuit season are here!

Nutrition is 75% of the fight – It takes a lot of exercise (I mean a lot) to undo a poor nutrition plan.

Portion size is the most important component.  Extra portions mean extra calories consumed.  When we eat more calories than our body burns off, we store them as body fat.

  • ‘Tis the season for fresh fruits and vegetables;   they are full of nutrients, lower in calories and support a healthy diet.
  • Choose lean meats and cut down on the refined carbohydrates.  They are the “gunk” that gum up our internal works.

Exercise:

  • Get your heart rate up to burn calories by playing with the intensity of your cardio. Calculate your target heart rate to work out safely, but within an intensity range that encourages change.  And mix it up.  When we do the same exercise, over time we burn fewer calories.
  • If you aren’t weight training – you should be.  A good exercise plan includes full body training.

It’s all about the abs

The rectus abdominis is one large muscle that runs from our rib cage to our hips.  It is our “six pack,” which is formed by grooves created by connective tissue.

  • The upper area of the rectus abdominis is activated through exercises that curl our upper body toward our hips, as in standard crunches .
  • The lower region of our rectus abdominis is activated when we bring our hips away from the floor, as in reverse crunches.

Our obliques are the muscles on the sides of our waist – they rotate our upper body.

Our transverse abdominis is under our rectus abdominis and supports our core.  By pulling our bellybutton back toward our spine or “bracing for a punch” and exhaling, we are strengthening our transverse.  This maneuver should be performed during while training every part of our body.

Try these exercises:

Crunch: Support your head with your hands, do not pull on your neck.  Pull your belly button in and breathe out as you slowly bring your shoulders off the floor.   Keep room between your chin and chest.  Hold for 2 seconds, before returning to the floor.  Focus the movement from your core.  Variations – put your feet up on a bench, use a physio-ball, add a twist to include the obliques.

Reverse Crunch:  Lie on your back, with your head on the floor and hands at your hips.  Bend your knees to a 90 degree angle.  Tighten your belly while bringing your knees toward your upper body and hips off the floor slightly.  – hold as you exhale.  Lower your heels back to the floor. Variations – Include a crunch as you bring your knees up.

Plank: To target your transverse, create a bridge with your body; With your belly facing the floor, stack your elbows under your shoulders and rise away from the floor – rest on your knees or your toes.

When resistance training any muscle group, including abs, you want to work out 2-3 non-consecutive days per week.  Cardio can be done on consecutive days, and you should try to get in at least 4 days of 30-60 minutes each session – use your heart rate to ensure you are getting the most from your time.

Quick Tips:

When targeting abs, be sure to hit all 4 parts of the core mentioned above.  If after 12-20 reps you do not find yourself fatigued; check your form, slow down (be sure you are using muscle not momentum), use medicine balls or weights for some exercises, or try a class like Pilates to really shake it up!

To find your target heart rate:

220 minus age; minus your resting heart rate; multiplied by 60-80% (the percent of your maximum effort that you wish to work at); then add your resting heart rate back to the equation.

But always use your RPE – or perceived rate of exertion – If you are feeling dizzy, lightheaded and faint or nauseous – you are overheating and need to stop and seek assistance.

Example of Target Heart Rate for a 50 year old with a resting heart rate of 72

220-50= 170

170-72 = 98

98 x .7 = 68.6

68.6+72 = 140 * Target heart rate

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