Core work exercises for the beginner to the advanced

REACHING YOUR HEALTH and fitness goals is hard enough as it is, never mind when you aren’t going about it the right way.

But what is a good approach?

In last weeks article you would have noticed me mention the best 3 step approach when it comes to working under any training regime and that is Mechanics (technique), Consistency and then intensity.

When it comes to any training program I design for clients I always have a strong emphasis on a at least 3 things and they are

  • Build a foundation

The wider the fitness base the better the individual’s fitness capacity. Spend time on the initial stages and forget about diving in at the deep end.Work on the basics first, getting consistently good at them, and then start to ramp up with some intensity.Basic things like building your aerobic base,have some emphasis on strength work and be able to perform simple mobility drills like a couch stretch or downward dog, or work on some basic movements like the squat and build from there.

  • Include a lot of mobility work

I would prioritise this area most of the time initially. A movement and mobility assessment is always the first thing I assess when working with any client for the first time.As a trainer I spend a lot of time working with office workers who spend 8-12 hours a day in the seated position.Not surprisingly, most arrive at the gym with poor mobility, lower-back issues, poor posture and a weak core, which makes training and doing simple things like hip hinges, squats, and other staples of a training program very challenging..

  • Plenty of core work 

Core work is something that every body needs in their program not matter what the age,gender,training age,fitness level or specific training goal is.A lot of the time when I ask a new client what their goal is they do mention improving their core and it seems as though a lot of them are mixed up between having a strong core and having visual abs, which can be very different things.Most when they mention core think they are referring to perhaps aiming to get that flatter stomach look with a few abs coming through.If you want those abs, yes, you need to do core work but mostly it’s going to come down to what you are eating as it’s a drop in body fat which will help those abs stand out.

I would regard core work as something you need to be working on almost every time you exercise.Core work is so important and in general I would consider function and performance to be the priority over aesthetics.A lot of clients I work with that come from office based jobs do generally come in with some sort of low back pain issues and one of the main reasons for this is because their core is often weak and overworked which then can lead to other body parts such as the back to flare up and start to niggle a lot of the time.

Today I am going to cover some smart and effective core exercises which can be for the beginner right up to the advanced person.As always in all my videos I have included some voice over tutorials which will give you one or two training tips and some movements included you really wont need any equipment what so ever.

Below is a combination of bodyweight drills that are ideal for the beginner as they are quite basic yet to be honest should be still performed by everybody no matter what level.Like I say in a lot of my training articles you cant beat the basics and a lot of the time you don’t need to move to far from them.Basic drills like planks, side planks and hollow holds are really great bodyweight drills that you can do from home where you dont need any equipment and is something to even thrown in at the end of your workout

Beginner exercises

Once you have these basic movements above locked down you could start to get a little more advanced with your core exercises.If you are a regular reader to my Tuesday articles you should know by now that you really shouldn’t be going too far down the advanced path until you have all the basics locked down and your moving well with them.Having access to a lot of fitness toys like resistant bands,kettlebells and even ab wheels are always a positive for your fitness program and its good to see plenty of gyms dotted around the country offering these tools to their members.

In this 3 piece core routine below I have included a testing range of movements that are the kettlebell turkish get up which is a challenging movement yet a exercise that really anybody can do (use your own shoe to start with, then work up to a kettlebell or dumbbell before eventually perhaps going for the barbell),the ab-wheel rollout which really is a super exercise that I would suggest for a lot of people to have pinned into their program then finishing off with a tough L-sit hold.

Advanced exercises

I hope you’ve found this information useful and if you need any more advice you can pop me a direct message from the links below.

You can also get more advice on my social media pages, which are also linked below.

David Last is a personal trainer based in Dublin. For more information you can follow him on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. Or you can send him a direct message here.

You can also see some of his previous articles here.

 

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5 very simple movements that I see performed wrong quite too often

If you are a regular reader to my Tuesday column the last 18 months you will now know how highly I rank the basics and getting them nailed down and right when it comes to everything related to your health and fitness goals.From training programs,nutrition plans to even simple recovery methods it really should always start with the basics and most of the time we actually never need to step too far from these areas.As a trainer working mostly with clients on a 1-1 basis I have seen how all of us actually need to be working around simple basic functional movements and once we do them right the results achieved speak for themselves.

Today I am going to cover 5 very simple movements that I see performed wrong quite too often.Over the summer months I found myself noticing plenty of outdoor bootcamp style large group training sessions in many of the local parks dotted around Dublin.Firstly let me say the goal of any training plan should firstly just to get off the sofa and aim to move more in your day.It was great to see many parks full of activity in the long summer evenings,however with large group sessions comes many obstacles for both the trainer and participant involved.

In the past I have taught and coached sessions with 15+ people in attendance. Group sessions can be a big challenge to keep everyone on the right path doing the right thing particularly when you have all different levels from beginners to advanced training ages.You have lots of different obstacles and challenges from some people with a lot of mobility restrictions than others and then some people who know whats right and wrong when it comes to their own technique a lot more than others. A lot the time the basic movements we see in group sessions can look quite different to everyone involved.Some master the movements well yet some just haven’t got the grasps of them at all.Encouraging poor movement patterns then ramping with increased intensity and repetition will only lead to an injury somewhere down the line.

Technique (learning the mechanics of the movement),consistency then intensity should always be the 3 step pattern here but sadly we seem to see many trainers jump the gun on the early stages and go straight into intensity when it comes to the group workouts.Any trainer can make you sweat with a tough workout but it’s the top trainers who have a method to the madness.A sign of any good trainer is someone who is going to be patient guiding you through the right appropriate steps for your training plan.Sure, in a large group session it might be challenging to approach everyone and make sure you have everyone moving well.My advice here is if you know you need a little extra help on technique then go source a trainer who knows how to help you.Find a coach who is particular about technique, has a good pedigree and has a proven track record of getting results.

FullSizeRender (66)

The picture above is an example of a small group of 5 who were all on a different page when it came to the same movement.The basic movement we are working on here is the hinge.In order to do simple basic functional movements like the deadlift or even going with a kettlebell swing we need to know how to hinge the right way.As you can see below everyone found a different bottom or set up position.This really is an example how it can be challenging to the keep the quality up in large group sessions particularly when you have a variety of different levels from their training age and their mobility levels.In small groups like this it will take some time and patience to fix all 5 into the right position.The best step here is technique,consistency then intensity.If I was so skip the right steps and let the session go ahead with deadlifts and swings with lots of reps and intensity with everyone’s movement looking different than others then I am fully sure at least a few of them would pick up a silly injury somewhere down the line.

Below is a quick video of the 5 basic movements that I see performed poorly far too often.These are not the most complex of movements.These are the basics that I suggest everyone to have in and around their training program.Once you start to master these you can look to developing them a bit more by perhaps adding more load or tweaking up the exercise a little as you develop a little more.

I hope you find this information useful and if you need any more advice just pop me a message. You can see more advice from me on my social media pages, which are linked below.

David Last is a personal trainer based in Dublin. For more information you can follow him on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. Or you can send me a direct message here.

6 ways using the prowler you love to hate

In most gyms we are starting to see a far better set up when it comes to gym equipment and layout on offer.Long gone are the days where we had clunks of gym machinery taking up the whole gym floor that really only worked and isolated one body part at a time.

Nowadays people are more aware on what type of setup and equipment they need for a good effective workout.Its great to see a lot more people start to take an interest in movement,mobility and strength training and that can be reflected in how a lot of commercial gyms are designed.Its pretty standard to see gyms kitted out with racks,barbells,resistance bands,kettlebells and so on along with some open turfed space.

In a lot of my previous articles I have given you smart ways on how to get the most out of each piece of equipment.I have covered as much as I can from bands,bells,mobility tools and so on so today I am going to focus on the sled or the prowler as others like to call it. In a previous article I included 5 ways to increase your power for on the field or in the gym .A lot of tools where covered from battle ropes to medicine balls and this is where the prowler could have fallen in as well.

Anyone that uses the prowler generally has a love/hate relationship with it. I have a love/hate relationship with the Prowler. I love it because it’s so versatile. I also love the extraordinary results it produces in an extraordinarily short period of time.The prowler is the ultimate piece of equipment when it comes to getting the most bang for your buck in the least amount of time. Bodybuilders can use it to add extra volume and put size on,athletes can use it to get faster,or gym goers can use it as a nice finisher to their session.Performing high intensity work and rest intervals of 20-30 meter sled sprints is something that is far more beneficial in terms of burning calories than going for a 30 minute jog.Doing things like hill springs,kettlebell swings are also a far better choice here and is something I have mentioned before in a previous article.

In most gyms I generally see the prowler being used in two ways.I tend to see either the light and fast approach or the slow and heavy approach.These both are great ways on using the prowler and something you should continue doing but there is also a lot more ways you can use the prowler.

Below is a snippet of my session last week where I spent 20-30 minutes on working the prowler.On that particular day the goal of this session was to keep my heart rate in a certain zone and not to push the body too much.I generally stayed away from high intensity sled sprints and wanted to get a light sweat on moving a load that wasn’t going to be too taxing on the body.I put together these different variations below which I hope can give you a handful of a few different ideas for when you use the prowler next time.

I hope you’ve found this information useful and if you need any more advice you can pop me a message from the links below.

David Last is a personal trainer based in Dublin. For more information you can follow him on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. Or you can send him a direct message here.

You can also see some of his previous articles here.

Health and wellness tips for the busy working individual

Over the course of my Tuesday articles I receive lots of emails and feedback for future entries to the column.After breaking down most questions asked it is clear that a lot of the readers are coming from a busy working environment and people who are aiming to find that balance while living a busy working day yet working towards the right path living a healthy and fit lifestyle.The aim of this column from day 1 is to try fill it with as much real truth and useful information to the majority of the readers out there.

Over the last 18 months I have been invited into companies working with them talking about the importance of looking after your health and fitness both inside and outside of a busy office environment.I must say it really is great to see some organisations take a big interest with their staffs overall wellness and now it seems long gone are the days that wellness packages are perhaps an added extra bonus to a companies profile for the staff members.Lots of companies now offer this and I have seen first hand the importance wellness,health and fitness plans means to both the individual and the company itself.We now live in fast paced environment that really can swallow you up if you don’t take certain steps in getting on top of it.Work can be good for our health.It provides many of us with self esteem,social inclusions as well as financial reward with the use of our talents in the workplace.However,it can also bring on high pressure,stress,burnout,mental health challenges and so on.Like I have said before fitness to me isn’t just about going to the gym,lifting weights or even eating your broccoli.There is a far broader range from both your physical to your mental fitness.

Below are a certain amount of tips and advice I would encourage people to take on board that find themselves in a busy working lifestyle and who want to find the right balance

  • Every office worker should do basic stretches

We all are spending more and more time sitting at our desks which can have a detrimental effect on your physical well-being.If you spend a lot of your day seated it can bring in many issues from poor posture, weak core, tight and inactive parts of our body which can then lead to poor movement, lower-back pain, or injury.Each time I go in and speak to companies the first bit of useful information I try and hammer home is highlighting the importance of looking after your bodies mobility.In this talk I give very simple solutions that everybody can do from their desk.This information is not just for the fitness individual but really for everyone.All you need is a 5-10 minute pocket of your day to try some of these drills below and this can only help you stay on top of things.

  • Make use of mobility tools in and around your training sessions

In last weeks article I gave you simple tools that you help your posture,mobility and flexibility.I always recommend that people bring in mobility tools like resistance bands, foam rollers and lacrosse balls in and around their training sessions before or after a working shift.Exercises like banded pull-aparts, X-Band walks, and doing movements like the couch stretch and pigeon stretch daily will help keep you on top of the areas that need attention.The information below is quite useful for those that find themselves doing both ends of the spectrum-spending a large chunk of their day sitting down at work and then spending a good amount of time training outside the office hours.There will be times you are going to feel quite tight,stiff or sore over the course of the working week and these simple steps below can only help you counteract them.

 

  • Spend time and develop your mental fitness

Physical fitness is very important but how you train and look after your mind is just as, if not more, important.Like I said before fitness to me isn’t always about lifting weights, running or going under the bar to hit a heavy squat-Spending time on your mindset is something I would encourage everybody to incorporate in their routine.As a trainer who visits companies quite often I have seen the huge benefit when applying some mental fitness aspects in a busy working environment.It is quite normal to see people feeling the effects from a busy working week.This can really all catch up on you and if not looked after can bring in many issues towards your wellness and health.Bringing in things like mindfulness,yoga or even meditation are areas that can improve your stress levels,fatigue or burnout.A healthy mind helps a healthy body. Doing things that help the brain slow down, de-stress and unwind are vital and often sacrificed in favor of more “fitness-focused” activities.

  • “SLOW down to SPEED back up again”

A quote I use quite a lot in this column and a phrase I find myself using almost every day when working alongside clients and companies.Throughout the course of the working week we are more than likely chasing deadlines,rushing around with the intensity quite high in certain working days.Its quite often to see people saying they don’t have the time for this or that and I see them almost living off fast quick fixes to push them through their working day.As a result of that we see a surge in demand for quick-fixes such as fast lunches, junk food and coffee to keep you going.This will catch up on you over time and can lead to issues such as weight gain or loss, poor posture/mobility, and completely falling off the health and fitness bandwagon.Slowing down can really mean anything here.On your lunch break aim to get a 15-20 minute walk in,cycle to work instead of driving,or even perhaps try get some of the 5-10 minute stretching exercise in on your lunch break-you need to make time for the priorities and slowing down every now and then is certainly one.Nowadays I see people focusing on a lot on speed ALL THE TIME in their training.You need to listen to your body more and assess what is the best training approach on that particular day.Remember,the goal is not to beat yourself up fatiguing and putting  yourself under more stress through training the body at high intensity especially after a very busy and stressful day in work.Sure its good to get the heart rate up in some training sessions but not all the time.Have value in the basics and perhaps the less vigorous options too.Drink water,listen to the body,walk,stretch and slow down very now and then.

I hope you’ve found this information useful and if you need any more advice you can pop me a message from the links below.

David Last is a personal trainer based in Dublin. For more information you can follow him on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. Or you can send him a direct message here.

You can also see some of his previous articles here.

 

 

5 simple tools that will help your posture,mobility and flexibility.

 

In a previous article I covered the 5 most common mistakes people are making in the gym.Like I have said before on many occasions one of the best approaches to your training sessions should be focused around doing the basics right and at times questioning “Is your current training structure something you can still follow 20 years down the line?”

One of the most common errors I see on the gym floor is people not having much emphasis on mobility/flexibility work and instead constantly wanting to ramp up their heart rate instead every single session.Mobility and flexibility standards are always the first thing I assess when working with a client for the first time.As a trainer I spend a lot of time working with office workers who spend 8-12 hours a day in the seated position.

Not surprisingly, most arrive at the gym with poor mobility, lower-back issues, poor posture and a weak core, which makes training and doing simple things like hip hinges, squats, and other staples of a training programme very challenging.

One of the main causes of injury,burnout or fatigue is poor movement patterns and lack of mobility with added volume,load or intensity.If your technique is bad or you are moving poorly it might just be because your extremely tight,stiff and inactive in certain parts of your body.

If you put aside 10-15 minutes into your session on focusing on these areas I can guarantee you that everything will become a little easier in your sessions from your posture,performance,recovery right even down to decreasing the risk of injury

This article is put together not to show you your weaknesses but to help you combat them and give you that little bit more knowledge and structure.Here are 5 simple pieces of equipment that will help you out.

Tennis/Golf/Lacrosse ball

Using a simple ball like this will come in very handy to attack parts of the body that are quite stiff or knotted up.Different areas of the body can be worked on here from the soles of the feet,the upper back/shoulders even down to very tight glutes/piriformis. Spend a few minutes here on parts of the body breaking down areas that feel quite tight.Its going to be a little uncomfortable and tender but trust me if you bring in exercises just like these drills below it will help you out a lot more. Ideally beginners can start off using a soft tennis ball and then work their way up towards a golf ball.

Foam roller

Perhaps the most common mobility tool that gym goers will recognise.Most sports stores will now have these.The best brand out there for me is the trigger point range mostly because of their quality and durability factor along with the range of choices they have.In my opinion the foam roller is not a tool to spend you whole 15-20 minute warm up.Ideally you need it for mash and work on areas you are quite stiff and tight in.This ideally can be brought in before or after your session.Ideally speaking a lot of people are quite stiff in the quads and latts and these are certainly two areas I would work on using the foam roller.

PVC pipe 

Something a little different here.You will find some facilities will have pvc pipes on the gym floor.I find these great for a number of coaching and training drills.One of my favorites training drills with the PVC pipe is working on my calves.Generally speaking a lot of people who spend time running will be extremely sniff in this area and its one of the main reasons why we get shin splints.The drill below will come in very handy for you if you find yourself constantly having to stretch out your calves.Applying the pipe under neath the glutes and sit into the pipe applying pressure down into the tissue.With your hands roll up and down on the areas that feel a little tender and bunged up.

Mini loop bands

If you are a regular reader of my Tuesday column I am sure you are aware by now of my obsession of using bands for your training sessions.The list is endless why bands are so good to have in your kit bag but perhaps the best use for them is for activation drills.Generally speaking most people need to activate their glutes and core every single day.One of the main reasons for low back pain is due to a weak core and inactive glutes. Bringing in drills like these below is something I suggest to all my clients.There is so many exercises here from leg raises,x band walks to fire hydrants.

Power/Resistance band

Similar enough to the band above and another tool that has 100s of uses.I use these types of bands mostly for mobility and flexibility work.Almost every single area of your body can be worked on using these bands.From rounded shoulders,stiff inactive glutes to the most common tight hamstrings.Below is an example of using the bands for tight hamstrings and is something I encourage people to work on as often as possible working toward hitting that 90 degree angle.

I hope you’ve found this information useful and if you need any more advice you can pop me a message from the links below.

David Last is a personal trainer based in Dublin. For more information you can follow him on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. Or you can send him a direct message here.

You can also see some of his previous articles here.

The 4 in 1 combo workout series

I HOPE THIS article finds you well and that you enjoyed my summer series of articles.

Over the last few weeks perhaps you had some time away from the gym floor, went on holiday or found yourself attempting many of the outdoor training workouts I’ve given in the previous summer pieces

As we approach the Autumn months ahead this is generally where I see a lot of people start to refocus,aim to get back into a routine, or maybe try ignite the fire for hitting a few new goals again.

The summer is there to be enjoyed from sunny festival days, the odd extra trip to the beer garden or even a holiday away full of indulgence.-I’m a big believer in having that balance when it comes to health, mindset and fitness.

Getting back into old ways can be a challenge and it can take some time and motivation to go again.The initial stages are always the most difficult with almost any new routine but once you have overcome that you will be back to where you left off in no time.

In this weeks piece I gives you 4 great workout clips that turn into one challenging full body circuit which will help you make the most out of your training sessions.If you are stuck for time or only have access to a limited amount of equipment then these sessions are for you.They can also act as a great finisher to your workouts where you get to introduce a little more intensity into your session.All you need is a little bit of space,1 piece of equipment,some workout structure to get going into a 10-15 minute block.

Dumbbells

You can get a lot out of one set of dumbbells. A good circuit like below can work the full body really well.This circuit will give you a workout starting off working on the upper body with some push,press and pull movements, while adding in some power and intensity into the short circuit.

Suspension trainer/TRX

Nowadays most gyms are dotted with suspension trainers on the gym floor.They are a also a perfect fitness tool to throw into the gym bag if you are on the road a lot. You simply hook the TRX up to any door frame, tree, or railing and you’re good to go.It’s a great piece of equipment that can be used for all fitness levels and can train any body part. Squats, pistols, rows, presses, planks and holds — you name it.

This 4 in 1 combo will work the whole body focusing on posterior chain work,some push and pull movements along with a power based exercise.It is the ideal circuit if you have limited time and space.

Kettlebell

If you are regular reader to my Tuesday column I am sure you know by now that I am a big fan of the kettlebell. It features in most of my programs and a piece of equipment I generally bring with me when I am on the road travelling.Its very versatile and quite easy to put a workout together with it.This 4 in 1 combo will strengthen your legs and arms,while increasing your heart rate a little with the added Russian swings.

Medicine ball

These are a great piece of equipment that most gyms have.Perhaps they don’t get used enough as most gym goers wont know much exercises or routines to do with them.The clip below will give test your core stability,lower and upper body strength along with a little bit of power at the end to ramp up the intensity a little.

I hope you’ve found this information useful and if you need any more advice you can pop me a message from the links below.

David Last is a personal trainer based in Dublin. For more information you can follow him on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. Or you can send him a direct message here.

You can also see some of his previous articles here.

4 in1 drills

I HOPE THIS issue finds you well and that you enjoyed your summer.

Perhaps you’ve had some time away from the gym floor, went on holiday or found yourself training outdoors with a couple of the workouts I’ve given in the previous summer issue.

For many of us September can be a month where we start to refocus, aim to get back into a routine, or maybe try ignite the fire for hitting a few new goals again.

It’s easy to find yourself a little lost on your fitness path or lacking some of the motivation that you had before the summer.

The summer is there to be enjoyed from sunny festival days, the odd extra trip to the beer garden or even a holiday away full of indulgence.

I’m a big believer in having that balance when it comes to health, mindset and fitness.

Every September I see a common trend of people who have taken the foot off the pedal, enjoyed themselves that little bit more in the summer, and are aiming to get back on the fitness buzz.

Getting back into old ways can be hard and it can take some time to build up motivation to go again.

The initial stages are always the most difficult but once you have overcome that you will be back to where you left off in no time.

In this seasons piece I gives you 4 great exercises into one challenging circuit that helps you make the most out of your workouts.If you are stuck for a little time or only have access to a limited amount of equipment then these sessions are for you.They can also act as a great finisher to your workouts where you get to introduce a little more intensity into your session.All you need is a little bit of space,1 piece of equipment,some workout structure to get going into a 10-15 block.

Dumbbells

You can get a lot out of one set of dumbbells. A good circuit like below can work the full body really well.This circuit will give you a workout starting off working on the upper body with some push,press and pull movements, while adding in some power and intensity into the short circuit.

Suspension trainer/TRX

A super tool that fits easily in your gym bag It comes in a small, netted bag and is very light. You simply hook the TRX up to any door frame, tree, or railing and you’re good to go.It’s a great piece of equipment that can be used for all fitness levels and can train any body part. Squats, pistols, rows, presses, planks and holds — you name it.

This 4 in 1 combo will work the whole body focusing on posterior chain work,some push and pull movements along with a power based exercise.It is the ideal circuit if you have limited time and space.

Kettlebell

I am a big fan of the kettlebell. It features in most of my programs and a piece of equipment I generally bring with me when I am on the road travelling.Its very versatile and quite easy to put a workout together with it.This 4 in 1 combo will strengthen your legs,arms,while increasing your heart rate a little with the added Russian swings.

Medicine ball

These are a great piece of equipment that most gyms have.Perhaps they don’t get used enough as most gym goers wont know much exercises or routines to do with them.The clip below will give test your core stability,lower and upper body strength along with a little bit of power at the end to ramp up the intensity a little.

I hope you’ve found this information useful and if you need any more advice you can pop me a message from the links below.

David Last is a personal trainer based in Dublin. For more information you can follow him on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. Or you can send him a direct message here.