Dr. Phil Shares: 5 Rules For Better Planks and a Stronger Core

 

5 Rules For Better Planks and a Stronger Core

Planks are one of the hardest exercises to get right. Yet, most of us incorporate planks into our workouts, whether it’s running, lifting or doing bootcamp. What many of us don’t realize is we’re planking all wrong.

“Planking is the gold standard exercise for core strength and stability,” explains Shana Verstegen, fitness director at Supreme Health and Fitness in Wisconsin. Doing them properly has real benefits. “They will make you a better athlete, help prevent/reduce back pain and allow you to move better in life.”

Here, learn how to maximize the perks of this exercise staple.

Most exercises can benefit from a bit of glute engagement, and planks are no exception. “Squeezing your glutes causes a bit of a stretch in your hip flexors, which transfers more of the workload to the abdominal muscles,” explains Greg Pignataro, certified strength and conditioning coach at Grindset Fitness. And your abdominal muscles are what you’re trying to work, right? “Additionally, contracting the glutes will reduce strain on your lumbar spine by preventing your lower back from sagging,” Pignataro adds.

Seriously. “Dr. Stuart McGill, a professor from the university of Waterloo who has spent 30+ years researching the spine and back pain, touts groundbreaking research about core ‘stiffness,’” Verstegen notes. “Holding planks for 10 seconds at high tension followed by a brief rest period before the next rep creates a much stronger core with fewer injuries.

“Pavel Tsatsouline, most famous for popularizing kettlebell training, agrees. He designed the ‘RKC’ plank around this philosophy of full-body stiffness and also promotes shorter, stronger plank holds.” Try doing a set of 3–10-second holds with maximum contraction for the best core strength gains.

Just as every body is different, every perfect plank setup is different, too. “Due to individual differences in body size and limb length, the ideal position is probably slightly different for every single person,” notes Pignataro. “This is important, because planks should challenge your core musculature, not hurt your elbows or shoulders. Experiment by moving your elbows and feet a few inches inward, outward, backward or forward until you find your sweet spot!”

Some people struggle to feel their abs firing during planks. If that sounds familiar, try this: “Once in plank position, pretend you are looking over a fence by pulling your elbows down so you can get your head and neck to feel taller,” recommends Brian Nguyen, CEO of Elementally Strong. “This will pull your hips and shoulders into alignment and you should feel more where you want it … abs, baby!”

“To make your planks count, every muscle needed to stabilize your spine is firing at a maximal effort,” says Kari Woodall, owner of BLAZE.

Doing so can even even help with your preferred method of exercise. “If I want to crush my deadlifts, I need the requisite core strength to pick up something heavy. If my body doesn’t understand what a maximal contraction feels like, then I am not only limiting how much I can lift, but I’m increasing my risk of injury if I do pick up something heavy,” she explains.

Not feeling the burn? “Squeeze your armpits like you have million-dollar bills tucked underneath each one, and you get to keep the money if no one can rip them away from you,” Woodall adds.

BY JULIA MALACOFF FEBRUARY 4, 2019 4 COMMENTSSHARE IT:

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Phil Shares: 10 Reasons Why Weight Lifting Is Great for Women

10 Reasons Why Weight Lifting Is Great for Women

10 Benefits of Strength Training for Women

When you’re weight training, you shouldn’t rely exclusively on the scale to gauge your progress. You can use a body fat tester or a tape measure to track how many inches you’re losing.

The size of your body will shrink as you shed fat and build muscle, but your weight may not change as dramatically as you expect. Besides, what’s more important, the number on the scale or how you look in selfies?

If you’re still not convinced that you need to lift weights, here are 10 reasons you should reconsider.

1. Burn More Fat

Researchers at Tufts University found that when overweight women lifted heavy weights twice a week, they lost an average of 14.6 pounds of fat and gained 1.4 pounds of muscle.

The control group, women who dieted but didn’t lift weights, lost only 9.2 pounds of fat and gained no muscle.

When you do an intense weight-training program, your metabolism stays elevated and you continue to burn fat for several hours after working out. During regular cardio exercise, you stop burning fat shortly after the workout.

2. Change Your Body Shape

You may think your genes determine how you look. That’s not necessarily true. Weight training can slim you down, create new curves, and help avoid the “middle-age spread.”

So, no, you won’t bulk up — women don’t have enough muscle-building hormones to gain a lot of mass like men do. If you keep your diet clean and create a calorie deficit, you’ll burn fat.

3. Boost Your Metabolism

The less muscle you have, the slower your metabolism will be. As women age, they lose muscle at increasing rates, especially after the age of 40. When you diet without doing resistance training, up to 25 percent of the weight loss may be muscle loss.

Weight training while dieting can help you preserve and even rebuild muscle fibers. The more lean mass you have, the higher your metabolism will be and the more calories you’ll burn all day long.

4. Get Stronger and More Confident

Lifting weights increases functional fitness, which makes everyday tasks such as carrying children, lifting grocery bags, and picking up heavy suitcases much easier.

According to the Mayo Clinic, regular weight training can make you 50 percent stronger in 6 months. Being strong is also empowering. Not only does it improve your physical activities, it builds emotional strength by boosting self-esteem and confidence.

5. Build Strong Bones

It’s been well documented that women need to do weight-bearing exercise to build and maintain bone mass. Just as muscles get stronger and bigger with use, so do bones when they’re made to bear weight.

Stronger bones and increased muscle mass also lead to better flexibility and balance, which is especially important for women as they age.

6. Improve Mood

You’ve probably heard that cardio and low-impact exercises such as yoga help improve mood; weight lifting has the same effect. The endorphins that are released during aerobic activities are also present during resistance training.

7. Improve Sports Fitness

You don’t have to be an athlete to get the sports benefit of weight training. Improved muscle mass and strength will help you in all physical activities, whether it’s bicycling with the family, swimming, golfing, or skiing… whatever sport you enjoy.

8. Reduce Injuries 

Weightlifting improves joint stability and builds stronger ligaments and tendons. Training safely and with proper form can help decrease the likelihood of injuries in your daily life.

It can also improve physical function in people with arthritis. A study conducted at the University of Wales in Bangor, United Kingdom, found that mildly disabled participants who lifted weights for 12 weeks increased the frequency and intensity at which they could work, with less pain and increased range of movement.

9. Get Heart Healthy

More than 480,000 women die from cardiovascular disease each year, making it the number-one killer of women over the age of 25. Most people don’t realize that pumping iron can also keep your heart pumping.

Lifting weights increases your “good” (HDL) cholesterol and decreases your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol. It also lowers your blood pressure. The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that people who do 30 minutes of weight lifting each week have a 23 percent reduced risk of developing heart disease compared to those who don’t lift weights.

10. Maintain Healthy Blood Sugar Levels

In addition to keeping your ticker strong, weight training can improve glucose utilization (the way your body processes sugar) by as much as 23 percent.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 weeks of strength training can improve glucose metabolism in a way that is comparable to taking medication. The more lean mass you have, the more efficient your body is at removing glucose from the blood.

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Prevent and Treat Summer Sports Injuries with These Tips

Summer is the season when many competitive athletes and weekend warriors’ are most physically active. Hospitals get busier as well, seeing an increase in sports-related injuries. Many of these painful problems can be avoided with some basic pre- and post-workout practices that keep athletes ready to play and help them recover after.

“During the summer months we see an influx of patients with injuries associated with increased activity level; too much, too soon, too fast,” says Dr. Phil. “We also see an increase in injuries associated with environmental illnesses like heat illness and dehydration”.

Repetitive Stress Injuries

A traumatic injury occurs at one time, such as when someone sprains an ankle, tears a muscle, injures a knee or breaks a bone. A repetitive-stress injury occurs when an athlete repeats a movement, such as a baseball pitch or a tennis backhand. Over time, a muscle or ligament or tendon begins to wear down.

Athletes should pay attention to nagging soreness in joints and be careful about pain relievers that can hide a serious problem. A visit to a qualified sports medicine physician can help pinpoint an overuse issue that’s causing pain. Treatment often includes adding strength-training exercises that target the specific area. Athletes can then meet with his or her coach and work on improving the throw or swing that’s causing the problem.

The Stretching Myth

Athletes might be surprised to learn that stretching a muscle and holding that stretch before activity not only doesn’t reduce the risk of injury, it actually impairs sports performance and can increase a person’s risk for an injury. Holding a stretch, known as static stretching, desensitizes muscles and decreases vertical leap and power for approximately 15 minutes. It’s OK to do this type of stretching roughly 30 minutes before activity or immediately following, but not right before a jog or volleyball match.  Examples of dynamic stretches are: skipping, jumping jacks, quick lunges, arm circles and light jogging. After every workout, practice, game or match, athletes should static stretch to increase flexibility and improve future performance.

Static stretching is helpful after a workout or game. “Cooling down and stretching after activity shows benefits for injury prevention, particularly after consecutive intense workout days in a row,” says Dr. Phil.

RICE Might not be Nice

For decades, athletes have used ice to immediately treat sprains and other injuries. The most common method of treating sports injuries today is the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation). According to current sport researchers (including Dr. Gabe Mirkin, who coined “RICE” and that treatment in 1978), icing is actually the wrong way to go. Inflammation after an injury is a sign the body is working to heal the problem. When athletes ice an injury, they slow the healing process. The same happens when taking anti-inflammatory medications, such as cortisone shots or ibuprofen.

It’s OK to use ice to manage severe pain, but only for 10 minutes, followed by a 20-minute break, followed by another 10 minutes of ice and so on. Athletes should stop icing after six hours and visit a doctor if the pain persists. If pain lasts for more 48 hours, it might be a sign professional medical attention is needed.

Hydrate Properly

During the summer, people participating in hard physical activity should begin all exercise sessions well hydrated, recommends Dr. Smith. “If a person becomes thirsty during activity, he is at least one liter depleted of fluid and this is means he needs to hydrate.” An athlete should pre-hydrate with 17 to 20 ounces of fluid, two to three hours before exercise, and another 7 to 10 ounces of fluid 20 to 30 minutes before exercise, says Dr. Smith. If the activity last less than 45 minutes, water should be adequate for hydration. If the exercise lasts longer than 45 minutes, athletes should consume some post-exercise carbohydrates, either in a sports drink, energy bar, snack or meal.

Beware of Heat Exposure

Many people who get heat prostration don’t realize it and keep playing, eventually ending up in the hospital. On hot days, athletes should check themselves, their partners and teammates for signs of heat stress, such as bright red skin, a lack of sweating and cold, clammy skin. Wear light-colored clothes and hats that wick water away from skin (avoid cotton) and let skin breathe.

Safe Workout and Exercise Tips

Dr. Phil recommends the following tips to build a safe, enjoyable exercise program:

  1. Build Frequency – How often you perform an activity. Start 2-3 times a week and build from there.
  2. Increase Duration – How long you do an activity. Start with 20 minutes and build from there.
  3. Increase Intensity – How difficult your activity is. The recommended rate to increase the intensity of your program is no more than 10% per week.

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health