Primary Muscles: Abdominals, Hip Flexors, Cardiovascular System
Secondary Muscles: Shoulders
The Mountain Climber is a great, multipurpose exercise. In addition to stressing the abdominal muscles, it is an effective exercise for getting the heart rate elevated. The abdominal muscles engage to drive the knees towards the chest, with the hip flexors assisting in the movement as well. The shoulders act to stabilize the upper body during the active movement of the lower body. Due to the vigorous nature of the exercise, the heart rate is also elevated, making it a great for anaerobic conditioning exercise as well. Kick-start that body fat loss with this one! Here’s how it goes:
Starting in a prone position on hands and feet with hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, right foot back with leg extended and left knee drawn up to the chest, switch feet in the air, driving the right knee forward and driving the left foot back until you have completely switched foot positions. Repeat this movement at an elevated pace, engaging the abdominal muscles as you drive each knee towards the chest. Keep a regular breathing pattern as you perform the movement. Perform the exercise for time or repetition number. Start with 30 seconds without stopping or 50 total repetitions and work up from there. Make sure that there is no discomfort in the shoulders or lower back.
This is how you create a strong, stable core and burn body fat at the same time. Enjoy!
“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” Romans 12:3
A couple of weeks ago I was helping out at the Escondido Community Wellness Day, and I was present during the door-prize giveaway of a year of financial planning for free. A great offer, right? A whole year of a professional looking over your budget, helping you trim where you need trimming, invest how you would most benefit. But I have to be honest. My first thought was “I’m not sure if I would use that.” Why not? I really can only say that it comes down to pride. It’s not that I couldn’t use the help. I’m sure that the advice would be invaluable. I just don’t like the idea of someone poking around in my personal life, and I think I would have a tough time with someone telling me that what I am doing is wrong and that I need to change it. But I got to thinking about my attitude, and I realized an important hypocrisy in my rationale. What I do for people’s physical lives is no different than what a financial planner does for people’s financial health. And I expect that people will come to me for help, willing to open themselves to a certain measure of scrutiny. Physical health is a very personal topic for most people, but I expect them to be open and honest with me.
What about me? How willing am I to open up to someone about my personal life? Realizing this has made me much more understanding about the psyche of the individual who seeks me out for my advice and help. That being said, don’t let your pride get in the way of finding the help that you need. Don’t be afraid to seek out the accountability of a friend. Ask that trainer in the gym if you are doing your exercises correctly. Sign up for Weight Watchers. Sometimes it takes admitting that we can’t do it on our own to start making progress. This is one of the reasons that I write this blog. Please don’t hesitate to leave comments and ask questions. I am here to help. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to better your health because you won’t admit that you can’t do it on your own.
Question of the Week: What does your pride keep you from accomplishing?
Nugget of the Day: Cardio is not the best way to burn calories- Part 2- Anaerobic exercise burns a higher total amount of fat calories and carbohydrate calories combined.
In my previous post on this topic, I told you that for lower intensity, longer duration activities, fat is the predominant energy source. Proportionately more fats are burned versus carbohydrates while participating in exercise that keeps the heart rate at a lower level (50% of maximal effort or below). It is this fact that led to the “aerobics” craze of the 80’s, and it has still been a driving force in the minds of exercisers when choosing an activity to help them reach their weight-loss goals. Hence the seemingly endless rows of cardio machines at the gym. And this all sounds good. Why not? I want to burn body fat, so naturally I should choose this style of activity, right
Here is where that logic falls short. I’ll go back to my dinner plate analogy. If you looked at the energy burned in an aerobic-style activity like a dinner plate, a typical cardio workout “plate” might hold 3 Twinkies, and 1 granola bar, with the Twinkies representing fat and the granola bar representing carbohydrates. This 3 to 1 ratio of fats to carbohydrates is the most effective way for the body to provide the energy it needs to complete the task. (Understand that protein is also used as an energy source, but for the sake of clarity I have left it out for now). As the intensity of exercise goes up, the proportions present on the plate changes. In a highly anaerobic (“without oxygen”) workout, it may be 3 granola bars and 1 Twinkies instead. Carbohydrates do not require the presence of oxygen to be used as energy.
So why can a higher intensity, anaerobic exercise be more effective for body fat loss than aerobic exercise? The important thing to understand is that while the proportions may have changed at a higher intensity, the anaerobic workout requires more overall plates. You may have to have 3 plates worth of food to provide the energy necessary for a higher intensity workout. 9 granola bars and 3 Twinkies at the higher intensity workout, and only 1 granola bar and 3 Twinkies at the lower intensity workout. You can see from this analogy that the same amount of fat is burned at both workout intensities. However, with the increase carbohydrate usage comes increased calorie burning altogether. The result? Assuming the nutrition is dialed in, and without going into too much detail about the biochemistry of it all, the body uses fat stores post workout to replenish the energy lost during the workout and the overall body fat loss is higher than with the aerobic workout. Understand that time plays a factor here. 5 minutes of high-intensity exercise is not going to necessarily negate an hour of low-intensity exercise. But minute for minute, the bang for your buck is much higher. The game you are trying to play is calories in versus calories out. And any time you can maximize the calories out, like with a high intensity workout, the more effective body fat loss you will achieve.
(Note: Always consult your physician before engaging in a high-intensity exercise program)
OK. So you think you have mastered the regular plank. Well, here’s a new challenge. The Side Plank is another great body-weight core stabilization exercise to add to your routine. No equipment needed and it can be performed anywhere. Like the regular Plank that I featured before, this exercises utilizes just gravity to provide resistance. As opposed to the deep transverse abdominis and outer rectus abdominis muscles stressed in the regular plank, this particular version targets the obliques (the muscles on the side of the abdomen responsible for side bending and torso rotation), muscles essential to a healthy and stable core. But due to the total body nature of the exercise, it also enhances muscle strength around the shoulders and hips. Here’s how it goes:
Lie on your side with your elbow directly beneath your shoulder and your legs fully extended and stacked on top of one another. Draw in your abdomen and lift your torso and hips off of the floor, keeping the back in a straight position. The only two points that should be in contact with the ground are the bottom elbow and bottom foot. Keep the neck in line with the rest of the body. Hold the position for as long as you can, and keep your breathing regular as you hold. Switch sides and repeat the exercise. If this version is too difficult, you can switch to the bent-knee version. The only difference is that instead of extending the legs, bend the knees at a 90-degree angle. This means that when you lift the torso, the only points of contact are the bottom elbow and the bottom knee.
I hope this exercise adds a little variety to your routine! Enjoy!