There are many benefits to having a seriously strong core beyond just having that Hollywood six-pack. A strong and healthy core is vital to everyday movement and functioning, and offers a vital stabilising and balancing force to your body. The team here at Elite Outdoor Fitness Academy offer circuit training in Essex; we wanted to go through some of the main benefits of strengthening your core, as well as some of the exercises you can to help get you there! We’re also offering a free unlimited 2-week trial for our academy to those people that sign up here!
First, though, let’s look at what muscles the core actually involves. The ‘core’ is a collection of muscles around the body’s trunk, or midriff, consisting of: the pelvic floor muscles, transverse abdominal (TVA), multifidus, obliques (both internal and external), rectus abdominis – the paired muscle which most people think of when they think of ‘abs’, the erector spinae and, finally, the diaphragm.
Now, we’re not expecting you to become a physiotherapist overnight, and knowing what each and every core muscle does isn’t necessary; all you need to know is that in strengthening those muscles, you build a stronger, healthier body overall. Our circuit training in Essex includes exercises in every workout which target the core muscles – either directly or indirectly through other compound movements. What, then, are the benefits to strengthening your core (asides aesthetic)?
If you sit at a desk all day, or naturally have a tendency to slouch, then you might well find that your neck, shoulder and back are becoming increasingly sore and stiff. A stronger trunk helps you both stand and sit straighter, and prevent painful medical problems like hernias from ever developing.
If back pain has been the bane of your life, then working on your core muscles just might help you out. It’s important to note, of course, that if you’ve not ever worked your core specifically – or at least haven’t for a while – then ease yourself back in slowly. You don’t want the very thing you’re doing to help alleviate your back pain be the thing that ends up putting your back out!
Even the simplest of tasks require engaging your core to at least some extent. From bending up to pick a dropped pen all the way through to standing up from the sofa, your core muscles see pretty much constant use throughout the day. We’ve written previously about the benefits of functional exercise, as opposed to training with isolated movements for purely aesthetic purposes. Well, the core group of muscles is about as functional as it gets! Even sitting still at your desk uses your core – seriously!
A staple of workouts for decades, the plank is one of the best tests of core strength there is – and it’s deceptively simple. Start in a press-up position (arms extended) before lowering yourself down onto your forearms; make sure you don’t sag too low, or arch your back and bum too much into the air. Look straight ahead, hold this position and don’t forget to breathe! Aim to add on ten seconds every time to start with, trust us you’ll feel it soon enough!
This movement revolves around a twisting motion, meaning it’s a great exercise to target your obliques. One of the common errors with core workouts is to focus too much on the abdominal muscles, and leave the obliques neglected as a result. An imbalanced core, whilst still preferable to an untrained core, can still actually cause issues – if you don’t work your obliques, you may still find yourself blighted by those lower back issues.
To perform the Russian twist, sit down on the floor with your legs out straight in front of you. Then, lean back so that your legs raise slightly and you form sort of V-shape with your body. Cross over your legs for stability, and then – still holding that V-position – twist your torso from side to the other. It’s important that you keep those legs stable and your trunk stable.
It looks easy – it’s not. The hollow hold involves first lying on the floor, facing upwards and with your arms stretched out behind your head. Make sure to lie on a yoga mat or a towel so as not to hurt or bruise your back. Then, raise your arms slightly overhead, and raise your legs whilst keeping your lower back flat to the ground. Hold this position for as long as you can, you’ll thank us (probably not) later!
The cheapest, most trusted piece of equipment out there on the market is unquestionably yourself. Your core is one of the easiest muscle groups to work without any additional equipment. This means that working out your core is a great option when you’ve not got access to a gym or fitness academy and their equipment.
If you’re looking to add a bit of weight to your core exercises, then the medicine ball is a great tool in the toolkit. The more resistance your muscles are met with, the more they have to work, the more they’re damaged and the greater the subsequent repair (which is what muscle growth in essence is).
The kettlebell is particularly useful for those exercises which, whilst not targeting the core muscles specifically, give them a good working out all the same. Everything from the simple, like kettlebell swings, through to the more advanced ‘Turkish getup’ targets your core muscles, whilst also working other muscle groups too.
So, if you’d like to find out more about our outdoor fitness classes and circuit training in Essex, then get in touch! Contact Elite Outdoor Fitness Academy today on 01702 232 470 or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget, if you register today then you can get an unlimited 2-week trial! What’s not to like? Check out our session schedule here.
Here at Elite Outdoor Fitness Academy, our focus is on functional fitness workouts in the form of group circuit training. This differs from what you’ll see most people typically doing in your big franchise gyms for their workouts; bicep curls, tricep pulldowns, quad extensions – those sorts of things. The difference? The latter are isolation exercises – movements which target a single muscle group.
Functional fitness, on the other hand, targets various muscles and muscle groups at once. Our team wanted to talk through the major differences, and why we believe targeting the whole body through our circuit training is the way to go. Whilst you’re here, you can make the most of our latest sign-up offer: a two week trial membership for £20 – by clicking here!
Now, there’s nothing particularly wrong per se with isolation training, it can serve a very specific purpose; if you’re training at an extremely high level for a particular sport, then supplementary isolation exercises might be needed. Likewise, if you’ve the time to target individual muscle groups, so that you’re still getting all of the major groups in over the course of a week, then more targeted exercises can again work well; you might have the time to do workouts on separate days for shoulders, chest, back, legs, core and arms, for instance, and if so – fair enough!
For the average person, however, exercise fits around our life rather than the other way around. Functional training helps tackle this issue, however. Our circuit training sessions, for instance, offer full-body workouts every single time. So, even though you might only be attending three weekly sessions, you’re going to be getting the same benefits (or near enough) that you would by religiously focusing on isolated movements.
16-inch biceps, earned by way of dumbbell curl after endless dumbbell curl, might make your arms look nice on a night out, but they’re not going to do a huge amount for you, practically speaking. Functional movements, by contrast, which tackle several joints, muscle groups, planes of movement, etc. The result is a form of training that helps develop a more well-rounded and well-adapted body, one that’s better equipped to deal with the wear and tear that life throws at us.
What’s more, training in isolation (no, not that kind – we’ve had quite enough of that over the past year!) can actually increase the risk of injury as you target certain muscle groups and areas, whilst neglecting others. Isolation training also doesn’t tend to improve your cardiovascular fitness, whereas circuit training exercises and functional movements almost always do!
Another way of looking at is it is to imagine two different cars being manufactured. The first car is built from lots of different component parts, all built separately from one another, before ultimately being brought together to complete the vehicle. The other car - the circuit training car – is built from fewer pieces and built altogether, rather than separately.
You end up with the first car functioning fine and looking great! But it doesn’t quite fit together perfectly; it’s all style and no substance. The second car, by comparison, runs smoothly; there are fewer moving parts to go wrong because everything has been developed with the other parts in mind. That’s what circuit training offers you; a holistic, all-encompassing approach to your fitness goals. Besides, you can still end up getting nice-looking muscles from circuit training, too!
Here at Elite Outdoor Fitness Academy, we have a purpose-built outdoors circuit training space complete with various different training zones, as well as our own team of highly-qualified personal trainers. With our own private car park and training space, we differ from most outdoors boot camps in the facilities and equipment we can offer.
Too many boot camps ask you to rock up in a local park and to bring your own equipment, yourself. Not us, though. We provide everything you need in our weekly morning sessions and we can even provide a training space indoors for when the weather turns really nasty, too. Full disclosure, though, we like to train outdoors wherever possible so a little bit of drizzle isn’t going to save you, we’re afraid!
Circuit training (with a focus on functional fitness) is undoubtedly one of the best types of exercise out there. Whatever your fitness goals – whether it be to build muscle, become more athletic or lose weight – this training type works highly effectively. So, if you’d like to find out more about our Essex circuit training sessions, then get in touch! Contact Elite Outdoor Fitness Academy today on 01702 232 470 or by emailing us at email@example.com. We look forward to having you at one of our sessions!
You’ve run, you’ve lifted, you’ve pushed through the hard work and you’ve got the sweat to show for it. You’ve reached the end of your workout, but then, with a heaving chest and that rush of endorphins, you wonder – what do I do now? Recovery after a workout is as important, and in many ways, more important, than the workout itself. Yet it’s often overlooked and neglected, with many individuals seeing the workout’s end when you’ve finished your last exercise. Not by us, though!
Here at Elite Outdoor Fitness Academy, providers of outdoor circuit training in Essex, we wanted to go through some of the most helpful and most important things you can (and should) be doing, post-workout! Whilst you’re here, you can also download our free PDF fitness guide chock-full of other helpful tips and tricks. By registering here, you also get to make the most of our latest sign-up offers; our current offer is a £20 trial membership for 2-week access to our classes! So, the workout’s over – what’s first?
Stretching post-workout is just as important as stretching pre-workout. Just as you wouldn’t want to go from “0-100”, so to speak without having first limbered up, you don’t to let your muscles suddenly stop and tighten up after a workout. The lactic acid that builds up during a workout is reduced when you stretch, meaning you won’t get the dreaded delayed-onset muscle soreness – or DOMS. If ever you’ve done a ‘leg day’ in the gym, and you feel like you can’t walk normally for the next day or two, that’s DOMS. A warm-down with stretching (and potentially just some lighter cardio) will also drastically reduce the risk of injury, in the future.
We cannot stress the importance of this enough; you should be hydrating pre-workout, during your workout and post-workout. The human body can lose a remarkable amount of water over the course of a workout through the process of sweating and breathing out water vapour; if you don’t take on enough water post-workout, then you risk dehydration. At its least serious, dehydration can lead to painful cramps, headaches and fatigue whilst serious dehydration can cause everything from seizures to kidney problems. With the (hopefully) warmer summer months ahead of us, it’s doubly important that you bring your water bottle to every outdoor circuit training session!
The post-workout recovery starts in earnest when you replenish your energy stores in the form of a snack or meal. Carbohydrates are our main source of energy and are the key to building back those energy levels, post-workout. A chemical called glycogen is our main energy source during exercise and carbohydrates are our primary glycogen source.
If you can pair this with some protein intake as well, then that encourages muscle repair and building. We’re not talking about protein shake after protein shake here, as some gym addicts would have you drinking, but enough to encourage muscle growth. So, our favourite post workout snacks? Eggs on toast, some porridge (potentially with some protein powder mixed in) or a refreshing berry smoothie!
Because our outdoor circuit training sessions all take place in the morning, they’re ideally situated for either a post-workout breakfast or late morning snack, depending on which classes you want to attend. Just whatever you do, don’t have them in front of our trainers or they might try and snaffle some!
A hot shower or relaxing soak can do wonders for tight muscles, especially if you’ve stretched after your workout, as well. After a hard session, the hot water can help relax muscle tightness and, like warm-downs, stave off DOMS. Besides, who needs an excuse to crack out the bubble bath and candles…
If you’re brave (which we’re not) and you’re planning on exercising a lot in a short space of time, for whatever reason – particularly when you’re not used to it – or if you’ve done an extra difficult session, then consider an ice bath… It’s thought by many that ice baths have the same effect at alleviating DOMS and stiffness that regular baths do – just quicker! After you, please…
Now, we fully appreciate this isn’t always possible, and many of our members lead incredibly busy, hectic lives. But if you can squeeze in five minutes just to sit in the garden or have a quick read of a magazine just to re-ground yourself again after the intensity of a workout, then you should try. This serves a physical health purpose as well, though, as asides to purely a wellness one. Relaxing, even briefly, can help with the body’s recovery after a workout as well as reducing the symptoms of chronic stress from other aspects of life, such as anxiety and fatigue.
So, if you’d like to find out more about our outdoor circuit training sessions, then get in touch! Contact Elite Outdoor Fitness Academy today on 01702 232 470 or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.