Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Importance of a Strong Core

Right before a show :) 
Most may think that the term 'core' refers to chiseled 6-pack abs. It is true that the abdominals are a component of the 'core' but not its entity. The core is actually what I like to call Grand Central Station! It is pretty much your body, minus your arms and legs. It is your erector spinea muscles (muscles along your spine), your rectus abdominus (superficial abs), internal and external obliques (side abs), transverse abdominals (deep abs), pelvic floor muscles, and diaphragm. Other muscles include gluteus maximus (major rump muscle), latissimus dorsi (a major back muscle), and your trapezius (muscles that raise and lower your shoulders as if you are shrugging them). As you can see, your core is a HUGE player in the way that you feel, move, and function every day.

Why is it important to have strong core muscles? There are soo many reasons but for starters the core determines a large portion of our posture, providing support and lessening wear and tear on our spine. Your core aligns your spine, ribs, and pelvis in order to resist a force, whether it be static (such as gravity) or dynamic (any type of movement).

The core is essential to a healthy back. When the core is weak, one may be susceptible to low-back pain, pain that affects many on a daily basis. Strengthening the deep muscles of the core allow for improved stability, balance and prevention against injury.

Core muscles play a major role in protecting your vital organs and central nervous system. Your core not only surrounds your vital organs and your central nervous system, but it is also where your body’s largest (and most important) veins and arteries are based. Keeping strong core muscles will help ensure everything stays protected as you move through your day.

The deep muscles of your core such as the transverse abdominis, allow for a woman to push during childbirth. The pelvic girdle allows continence, the ability to withhold a bowl movement and urinary stress. Core muscles are very important during the valsalva maneuver; the tightening of your thorax when holding your breath. Examples include pushing, lifting, and birthing a child. As you can see your core is a crucial component to living a healthy life.

To strengthen your core, you not only need to train your abdominals (each and every layer) but you also need to train your back, hips, and glutes. Here is one of my core workouts that will leave you feeling those muscles ya didn't even know you had!  Perform this circuit 3 times through! **Pictures are from    

  • Plank (30 secs-1 min)- Start in push-up position with your forearms on the ground and legs extended behind you. Keep a nice flat back, draw your belly button towards your spine and hold.
  • Side plank (30 sec-1 min)- Lie on your right side with your legs straight. Prop yourself up with your right forearm so your body forms a diagonal line. Rest your left hand on your hip. Brace your abs and hold.
  • Superman (10x)- Lie face down on stomach, arms and legs outstretched. Raise arms and legs off the ground, reaching in opposite directions, and hold.
  • Crossover Mountain climber (15x each side)- In pushup position, bring knee to opposite shoulder and back. 
  • Flat Bench Lying Leg Raise (10x)- Lie with your back flat on a bench and your legs extended in front of you off the end. Place your hands by the sides holding on to the bench and raise your legs (keeping them straight) until the bottom of your feet are facing the ceiling before lowering back to the starting position.
  • Swiss Ball Rollouts (15x)- Kneel with hands on Swiss ball. Roll ball out, leaning chest forward and extending arms, then roll ball back in.
  • Glute Kickbacks (15x each side)- Begin on your hands and knees. Looking forward, squeeze your buttocks as you simultaneously raise a leg up. You can repeat the same leg or alternate legs.

I was having a hard time picking a treat for y'all but this one has been on my to-do list so what better time than now?

PB & Cocoa No-Bake Cookies 


1/2 cup Natural peanut butter (I like crunch)
1/2 Banana, mashed
3/4 cup Baking stevia
1/2 cup Vanilla almond milk (or nonfat milk)
4 TBSP Cocoa powder
3 cups Quick-cooking oats (I use gluten free) 
Pinch of Salt


Put mashed banana and peanut butter together in a skillet and cook over low to medium heat, stirring until peanut butter and banana are combined.
Once the peanut butter is melted, take the skillet off the heat and add the rest of the ingredients, stirring until everything is mixed well.
Drop cookie dough on a baking sheet lined with wax paper, patting cookies into desired shape. Place baking sheet in fridge or freezer until cookies are setEnjoy!!

Facts:  24 Cookies   75 Calories per cookie  3.5 g Fat  15 g Carbs   0.5 g Sugar    3 g Protein 



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