There are two areas that don't seem to take center stage in our pursuit of being more fit, although they both play a key role with our progress – developing overall core strength and flexibility. I have definitely been guilty of this, especially when running short on time and saving core work for ‘later' and don't even get me started on how many times I've skipped stretching. While we seek to make gains in our lifting, we should allot time for core strengthening and flexibility activities, which actually assist other goals by improving our performance and reducing the risk of injury. So, this month we're holding everyone, including myself, to task and challenging you to make both a priority!
“It is true that big arms, shoulders, and legs are impressive, and a lot of training must be dedicated to these areas. Yet the trunk is the link between these areas, and the limbs can only be as strong as the trunk.” – Tudor Bompa
Think of your core as a support system. Having a strong core improves strength in other areas of the body and reduces risk of injury. When thinking about your core, remember it encompasses more than just your “abs” or the six-pack area. The core muscles include the rectus abdominus and transverse abdominus, the obliques (external/internal), the muscles surrounding the spine, the hips and glutes, and the pelvic area. Pretty substantial! To build a strong and balanced core you need to use a variety of exercises and this month we'll hit the core from all angles!
Following an intense training session, it's important to restore length to contracted muscles. Regular stretching keeps the muscles elongated, assisting with recovery between workouts. Maintaining good flexibility reduces the risk of injury and improves the mobility of joints and muscles. In addition to post-workout stretching, including 1-2 sessions of restorative yoga each week can also do your body good, activating muscles not often used.
Freedom from the Scale
The scale has wrecked many good fitness journeys. For some, one undesirable reading can make or break your mood for the day and have you second-guessing all the non-scale progress you've made to that point. So, for that reason we hope you will take a break from the scale this month. Lock that bad boy up in the closet or simply take the batteries out. Enjoy a month not focused on how to get the scale to move!
Freedom to Indulge
What's a life without a little indulgence? Keeping some yumminess in your nutrition plan keeps it enjoyable and sustainable. This month we challenge you TO EAT THE CAKE! Seriously, plan to have a treat at least every week, being mindful to balance your macros for the day.
Food prep does not have to be a major event where you spend an entire day cooking food for the week. Believe me when I tell you, a little goes a long way. Whether it's making a batch of slow-cooked oats or an egg-bake for the week's breakfast or cooking a couple pounds of protein for lunches or dinners, every little bit helps you to meet the goals you are pursuing. When things don't go according to plan during the week, it's great to have one less thing to think about and keeping some pre-cooked food on hand can help.
Eat to Fuel
If there is one pet peeve I have it is to see someone working so hard at their fitness, but not reaping the benefits of their labor. This is what happens when you are in the gym day after day, week after week, but yet not nourishing your body with enough food or nutrients. Obviously if you are cutting, you will be eating slightly less than normal, however, this is only short term and is not a substantial amount. Food is fuel for your body so don't cheat it by only filling to half a tank!
Progress in your thinking is equally if not more important to physical progress. Negative thoughts can slip into your mind before you may even realize it. This month we'll challenge you to keep your thoughts positive by reflecting on your journey to this point, highlighting your successes, and finding activities that keep you inspired and motivated.
Are you ready for this challenge? Let's do it!!