Over the last few years one of the most popular words in fitness has been ‘Core Stability’, even though you usually get something else entirely. Without a strong core your body simply cannot perform properly. I know there is a lot of emphasis still put on sit-ups and crunches but honestly I think it is because they make you feel like you are working your abdominals. Your core is more than just abdominals, your back, butt and hips are involved as is your waist. So just moving in one or two ways cannot do the job properly or safely.
Crunches give you an “ab burn” and a little increase in your heart rate that adds to the overall perception that you’re working hard. Too many and you could de-stabilise your core, leaving you open to all kinds of back, shoulder and hip problems.
Pilates Style Training
I know you can accomplish that very thing with a good Pilates style core workout. You can also avoid overloading your vertebral discs with unnecessary stress, protect your neck and avoid using your hips, all the problems crunches bring with them.
Effective Core Routines
The key to making Pilates core workouts effective is to choose the right exercises and to push yourself by progressing your exercises. Don’t be satisfied with doing the same exercises over and over, your muscles become used to them in a couple of weeks. If you always work at the same speed, can finish every repetition and stay inside your comfort zone you’re cheating yourself and missing out on great results.
When I plan a Pilates abdominal sequence I think about levels of progression so I can challenge everyone in that group. I think about body position, angles, stability and support. I’ll try to change the work for core muscles from active to passive. Sometimes you have to put effort into keeping your torso static while you move your arms and legs, while another exercise might move your body while stabilizing your limbs. This variety, mixed with twists and rotations gives you the opportunity to strengthen and define muscles, while staying long and lean. True 3 D core training is different and envigorating. For something challenging try a Pilates Fitcamp – it’s faster, intense sequences require effort – you may even sweat.
Pain Free Posture
I know that Pilates offers everyone the chance to develop pain free posture without crunches and sit-ups. I’d go further and say that if your trainer asks you to do crunches, hooks your feet under a bar or weight to enable you to sit-up, or holds your legs down while you work out….
Does your gym have Ab Curlers or Ab Cradles?
They just don’t work – you’ll do hundreds of repetitions, eat up your precious leisure time – and time is your only truly limited resource. Don’t waste it on exercises that won’t help your body in any way. You’ll get that little muscle burn and not much else.
You must ask yourself a few important questions……
Perhaps next time you train you’ll wonder
Why am I paying for this?
Am I getting results from this Gym membership?
When did my trainer qualify?
Have they kept up to date with current understanding of how my body works?
I would suggest – No!.
Big Gyms Love Equipment
– and lots of it. Impressive and expensive, it keeps you busy and you can watch TV and keep your headphones on…. Or would you rather actually meet the new friends you were promised when you joined or have a laugh while you train ?
To do that you’d need a skilled instructor that can teach, entertain, keep you focused on how the exercise feels, correct your form and lead you towards a strong, lean and healthy body.
It’s Time To Choose
But, it’s your choice – keep doing the crunches – keep paying your gym membership and make friends with a physical therapist and I’ll see you in class when they refer you to a Pilates Instructor for ‘Proper Core Training’
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