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Core Strength Training: Core Exercises

This article is devoted to the second component of the four critical areas of exercise training for dedicated athletes. We’ve covered flexibility and are moving on to core strength training. As a reminder, the four physical training components designed to increase speed, size, and power in athletics and include (1) flexibility (2) core strength (3) explosive movements, and (4) the strengthening of the posterior kinetic chain. Combining these components with a sound upper body strength routine will give you an edge on the court, the field or the ice. Let’s discuss the importance of core strength training in athletic conditioning.

Core Strength Training – Significance

Engaging in regular, consistent core strength training movements offers many benefits: it helps an athlete avoid muscular-skeletal pain and injury (particularly of the neck, hips and back); improves body control and stability and tones muscles involved in flexibility and balance. The importance of training your whole core is catching on fast…adopting a sound core strength training workout means engaging all of the muscles encasing your torso, from your shoulders to your thighs. Many fitness experts believe that, on its own, core strength training should be a separate workout component, alongside flexibility, cardiovascular and general resistance training movements. The most misunderstood fact around core strength training is that performing a few sets of crunches (and ignoring the back) does the job. Though research studies connecting core strength training to enhanced performance is in its youth, if you participate in a well-structured core strength training routine twice weekly, don’t be surprised if, after a few weeks, you can shave a full mile-per-hour off your running time.

Exercises that strengthen core muscles involve stretching and balance routines. They are a foundation of the basic fitness principles of dance, yoga and Pilates. Unlike traditional resistance exercises, core strength training does not require large pieces of exercise equipment. Core strength training requires a mat, possibly a stability ball and/or Bosu trainer but these accessories are not required. It is much more important that you are able to focus and perform the movements slowly, to your tolerance, using care not to overload your back. You must concentrate on your muscles and maintaining your balance. Your mind cannot be ‘elsewhere.’

Core Strength Training – Considerations

Gym warriors that consider themselves ‘advanced’ exercisers should start basic. Having a strong upper body and breezing through daily runs doesn’t necessarily mean you have a taut core. Many traditional strength training exercises are ‘forward’ directed (such as lunges and bench presses). Overdoing on these contributes to imbalanced muscular development or underdeveloped back muscles (from shoulders to the buttocks). By balancing out your strength, you can improve your posture, correct imbalances and breeze through functional movements (everyday activities) with a level of comfort and ease you didn’t have before.

In addition to engaging in a series of core strength training movements (for your front and back torso), you can enhance core strength by tweaking traditional strength training exercises. For example, instead of using a bench for stability while working your upper body (chest press with dumbbells), use lighter dumbbells and perform them on a stability ball with the ball supporting your upper back and neck. Keep your body in a ‘bridge’ position with your knees bent at a right angle, feet flat on the floor and pelvis elevated to be even with your chest. The focus of this article is on explaining the importance of core strength training. In the future, look for a sample core strength training routine for beginners. Examples of core strength training movements include bird-dogs, lateral pillar bridges (side planks) and planks (with hands on the mat under your shoulders) with alternating arm extensions.

Lentils Nutrition Benefits

Light and small are two words appropriate for  describing the appearance of lentils, but looks can be deceiving. These lens-shaped legumes are one of the true ‘heavyweights’ when in comes to nutrition powerhouses. Lentils are especially appropriate to add to your diet during the Lenten season, when some individuals restrict meat consumption.

Within the legume family, lentils are one of the highest in protein content. They are excellent/good sources of the following nutrients, vitamins and minerals: iron, calcium, magnesium, phytochemicals and folate (an important B-vitamin, especially for women in child-bearing years, that helps the body manufacture blood cells).

ALL legumes are very high in dietary fiber and lentils are no exception, packing 4 to 10 grams of fiber per 1/2 cup (depending upon type, size, cooking method). Remember, the American Dietetic Association recommends that healthy adults consume approximately 25-35 grams of fiber daily.

Lentils are among the most ancient of legumes as well. You can find a broader variety of this legume throughout Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa. Sold in a huge variety of colors –black, green, yellow, orange — and flavors, lentils offer versatility for home cooks as a nearly fat-free meat substitute and guilt-free budget-stretcher side dish. In the United States, red, brown and green lentils are the most common.

Their quick-cook applications make them perfect for health-conscious cooks in modern times. and lentils fit perfectly in Lenten meals. Unlike dried beans, lentils need not be soaked in water for hours. In fact, they cook in 20-30 minutes. In addition, cooked lentils will last up to three days when kept covered in the refrigerator.

Use lentils in soups, add them to other vegetables and casserole mixtures or serve them cold in salads. Brown and green lentils hold their shape when cooked, while red lentils work best in puree, soups and stews where a soft texture is desired.

Once you discover their ease of preparation and healthful attributes, you will understand the popularity of lentils far beyond the Lenten season. Follow these basics in the care and cooking of lentils.

  • Lentils are simple to prepare. Sort, remove any debris. Then rinse and boil 15-20 minutes. There is no need to soak lentils. Also, do not add salt to lentils while cooking because this can make them tough.
  • Storing lentils is simple. They keep indefinitely in a cool, dry place. After long storage, the color may fade slightly, but the taste shouldn’t be noticeably altered.