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Strong Core for Winter Sports

It’s December and now is the season for skiing, snow boarding, snow shoeing, ice skating, and even sledding. If you’re not an active winter athlete, and you prefer to sit on your butt gaining weight this winter, then don’t bother reading this article. But if you have hopes and dreams, or scheduled plans to get involved in winter activities, I advise you to strengthen your core. Even if you do just want to sit on the couch all winter, tucking in your tummy and improving your posture will at least make your waistline appear a little slimmer.

Many people refer to “the core,” and typically we think of the abdominals as our core. But it is much MUCH more than just abs! It includes any muscle that is directly engaged with the spine or pelvis. The core will be the protective barrier for accidents or nasty falls. Therefore, a strong core is automatic injury prevention. Many winter sports are on very slick surfaces, where balance and stability are absolutely essential. Yet again, the core muscles will keep you balanced and on your feet. Changing directions on snow comes not just from your lower body, but the pelvis shifts your weight as it is the powerhouse of your whole body. Need a few exercises that will get your core powered up for the season, without any equipment? Watch this video:

Please don’t end up ruining your entire winter season, by getting injured out there on your first weekend. Firm up and stay tight. Have fun!

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Remove ugly belly fat

Some articles proclaim “how to get rid of belly fat!” or “Try these exercise to remove unwanted belly fat!” The articles may be missing one key point. We cannot simply laser off belly fat magically, unless you get surgery. Don’t get me wrong, exercise DOES WORK to reduce body fat. However, you can’t eat cookies and pie all day long and expect to lose the body fat!

Keep in mind, we all have different body shapes and different places fat cells like to accumulate. One type of body has those nice dimply thighs and chunky butts, where the fat cells love to pile up, with less of a chance for the extra ugly belly fat. The other type has less fat on the legs, but chronically chubby tummies. These are body types that you can’t escape. The fat will go where it wants to go.

If you are the type that has extra belly fat, you can do sit-ups all day long and it won’t burn those stubborn fat cells. Although, core and abdominal strength are an extremely important part of a fitness regime. The solution to burning the fat is essentially burning more calories, and then to eat less calories. If you’re burning calories, you’ll eventually use the fat cells to produce energy. Hence, zapping away those piled up fat cells around your belly button!

Don’t listen to all the articles that proclaim the cure to belly fat as being one specific exercise or trick. The key is to just go out there work hard, burn some calories, and then skip the ice cream at night.

Strong Abs — Do It Right!

If you’ve had me as your fitness coach, you know I’m a big proponent of strengthening your abdominals. However, strong abs seem to be commonly done wrong and it is simply sad that all these hard working fitness enthusiasts are only working the external muscles known as the rectus abdominus, AKA “six pack.” The six pack is one of the LEAST useful part of your abs. It is mostly just a show-off muscle that looks nice but does little for actual core power and strength! The ability to run faster, stay stronger longer, win tennis matches and races of all sorts is facilitated by your “powerhouse,” as we call in in Pilates. I’m talking about the full spectrum: obiques, transverse abdominus, the diaphram, intercostal muscles, the Pelvic floor muscles, the Multifidus, the muscles of the inner thigh, and the muscles encircling the sitting bone area. It’s a complex and powerful network of muscles that is often glossed over by most coaches and personal trainers. Strengthening inner core muscles helps you breathe better in the water while swimming, to run faster at the end of a workout or race, and creates better balance and overall injury resistance. The common misconception is that you need to use really heavy loads like dumbells and medicine balls to do all the ab strengthening. If you do this, you scare away all your stabilizers and interior muscles from doing the work. The bigger muscles, global mobilizers take over, not the muscles you want to target. In short, don’t be a meat head by just hammering out some hard core ab work. This will get you no where in the long run.

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