Today’s Tips are very important, especially if you are struggling with scoliosis, back injuries, uneven hips. They helped me to be able to lift safely and build strength to decrease my pain.
But even only for aesthetic purposes, who doesn’t want nice abs and a strong back?
I hope you enjoy today’s post!
- By the way, there are two new workouts you find in the Navigation under “Workouts”: OMG Glutes Workout and Targeting Glutes and Hamstrings. There are many more to come!
6. Core and Back Strength
Many people forget to train body parts when trying to grow another. However, to lift heavy with Deadlifts or Squats, a strong core and back is important to decrease the chance of injury.
Deadlifts, Squats, Lunges are all compound movements. This means that they work the whole body at once and not just one muscle group – like isolation exercises. Thus, it is crucial you have control over your whole body.
A strong Core
Whether you have just started working out or if you’ve been training for a while, I recommend everyone to start with Pilates Core Workouts. I incorporate them 1-2 times a week, mostly on my „active rest“ days. And every time I get a deep burning in those abdominal muscles that no crunch can keep up with.
Pilates Exercises teach you to actually contract your abs all the time – while you are moving, sitting, breathing etc. The abs and back muscles build the core. It runs around your midsection like a corset.
Weak abdominal and back muscles are one of the main reasons why so many people suffer from back injuries nowadays. I often see people bending over to lift a jug of water with a crooked spine and without contraction of their abs or legs. The back muscles are very small, thus they can not endure such big forces. So what is the result? A herniated disc… . This is an injury that is also very common among weight lifters.
Favorite Pilates Core Exercises:
Once you are able to engage your abdominal muscles in these Pilates exercises, it’s time to move on to some effective strength exercises. These will NOT make your belly stick out and bulky. My trick here is to target the transverse abdominis – the deepest of the abdominals that runs around your midsection.
Favorite exercises for core strength:
– Reverse Crunches (you need strong muscle-mind connection for this, lift only with the abs and contract your Glutes!)
– Jackknife Crunches (don’t use your neck muscles when doing the crunch!)
– Flutter Kicks (keep the Lower Back pressed against the ground)
– Climbers on a Balance Ball (contract your back, shoulders and keep your pelvis in a neutral position by squeezing the Glutes)
– Pike Ups on a Balance Ball (Again the pelvis position is very important, otherwise you overextend your lower back. Contract the Glutes!)
– Plank with Arm and Leg Extension (very advanced exercise, also can be done on elbows)
– Plank Roll out on Balance Ball (Contract the Glutes and Back Muscles)
See a much more detailed explanation on these exercises in my article on Activating the Abdominal Muscles.
The Back Muscles
Moving on to the Lats- Latissimus dorsi. Attached at your shoulders, it runs down to your lower back. It is crucial for proper posture and shoulder alignment to have strong lats. Especially with Deadlifts, it is important that you don’t round your upper back when lowering the weight and keep the shoulder blades contracted the whole time.
Read more about Activation of your Back muscles in my Muscle Activation Series.
Favorite exercises to build strength:
– Lats Pulldown with Resistance Band (if you are working out in a gym you can use the machine, but I work out at home and have to improvise ;))
The trick to activating the Lats is to imagine that you have a small purse right at your armpit and you need to keep your arm right beside your body so that it does not fall down.
7. Superset of Isolation & Strength exercises
As much as I love working out with the videos of Kellie and Daniel from fitnessblender.com, I like to do my own routines a couple of times a week.
When I structure my own Lower Body Workout, I like to challenge myself and really burnout the muscles.
I typically super-set a Glute/ Hamstrings Isolation Exercise (like Bridges, Hamstring Curls, Donkey Leg Kicks) either weighted or bodyweight – with a heavy strength exercise (like Deadlifts, Squats etc.).
I go back and forth between both without rest. This actually ends up to be very challenging cardiovascular and you reach muscle failure fast (metabolic stress!).
Also, by super-setting a lighter Isolation Exercise with a heavy compound movement you make sure that the right muscles are activated with the compound exercise.
If you would superset Squats and Deadlifts (which is great too!) it would be harder to go back and forth between both without rest and risking injury.
To properly activate all muscles during the Squats and Deadlifts your brain has to put 100% of your focus into the exercise. But once fatigue sets in (oftentimes you feel „sluggish“ at this point), you might end up rounding your back/ using other muscles instead.
Find a thorough explanation for this workout here.
This is a high volume workout (30 sets total) and great for building strength and size as well as burn fat because of the fast pace.
Try this tip, I’m sure you will find it effective.
This concludes Part 3 of this Series.
If you liked this, leave me a comment and share the knowledge with your friends!
Have a wonderful day!
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