41 of the Hardest Ab Exercises

Check out Livestrong's website for "The 41 Hardest Ab Exercises" 

When it comes to core, make sure you target it in multiple ways. It doesn't just come from doing crunches. It comes from functional, total-body movement too. Deadlifts and movements involving full hip-extension also work your core. 

Make sure when you do just core, you do it as a warmup before lifting, or running/cardio. Core serves to correct your posture and support your spine. So it's good to activate the abs before you run or do strength training because it will help wake up your stabilizers and entire core and in turn, support you through functional movement patterns. Think of the core as the body's powerhouse- the mitochondria of the body. 

You can't out-crunch a bad diet. The secret to abs is to lower your body fat. And you should never  have just an "ab workout," always incorporate it into routines with strength, running. Work it from all angles! 

 

Try This Fresh Approach To Half Marathon Training

*This originally appeared in part on Women's Running - Written by: Meghan Takacs, Remorca Fitness Trainer, and Aaptiv Running coach


Stop running so much. It’s not as good for you as you think it is. And it’s probably not going to make you any faster.

I’m not trying to take it to an extreme here and saying that running is bad for you. Do not use this as an excuse to not run! However, what is bad for you is running too much. I used to log in about 30 to 35 miles per week and ended up qualifying for the Boston Marathon on my first marathon. But I never went on to do a second one.

My body physically hurt. I was constantly dealing with injury.

So here’s what happened: I thought to myself, I miss the speed work from running the 800 in college. So I started doing more speed work. I started doing stadiums and hill sprints. I was doing 16×200 sprints for a workout, instead of a 6-mile run. And then I started Olympic weightlifting. I was getting the same intensity out of doing this, getting injured less, and I was actually loving the fact that I was toning up, and leaning out. And I was seeing major changes in my speed and body. And yes, at first I was apprehensive about shying away from running and turning to lifting more, but it was too awesome to stop.

My answer to becoming a better, more well-rounded, powerful runner and athlete was cross-training.

cross-train·ing
Noun: training in two or more sports in order to improve fitness and performance, especially in a main sport.

I like the mixture of my workouts. My surroundings are constantly changing. One day I’m at the track, the next I’m lifting at Crossfit, and the next day I’m running around Central Park. It’s awesome. I absolutely love the weightlifting element of training. These multi-joint, compound, power movements are absolutely necessary to improve your running economy. Now, running is actually easier, I’m faster, and it’s more enjoyable than ever before because i’m not doing it so much, but when I do, it feels good. My body isn’t heavy.

If you are a runner, and this is coming from a truly, passionate runner, I highly recommend taking some time off the mileage, and start cross training. Get faster. Instead of running marathons, race half marathons. The training for it will be way more enjoyable, and your body will thank you later. If you have been running for 10+ years, the mileage is there. It’s not like a major concern of yours is if you are going to finish or not. But it’s time to stop focusing so much on mileage and distance, and it’s time to get strong and fast.

Here is how you train for your next half marathon:

Know Your Pace

Just like you need to know what your 1-rep max weight is when you weight lift in order to scale your volume and create your rep scheme for weightlifting variations, you also need to know what your mile pace is in order to scale your mileage and gauge your pace for speed intervals and training runs.

I want you to remember that running long distances and having high mileage doesn’t necessarily make you a Boston Marathon Qualifier. Yes, accumulating mileage will help you complete the race. But in what condition? I, like many runners, have hit “the wall.” You don’t want to hit this wall, and I want to help you to not do that.

For me, when I run, I have three different types of “speed work” I use:

Tempo Running: Tempo running, I would suggest, is about 70 percent to 80 percent of your max speed for an all out mile time. So if your fastest mile time is 6:30, you would be running the “tempo” part of the run at roughly 7:00 minute mile pace.

Sprints: This is your 400M pace – If your fastest mile time is 6:30, your sprint speed is a 5:15-5:30 mile pace.

X percent effort: Whenever I say “80 percent effort” or “60 percent effort” This is based off your average mile time. So if I say “I want you to give me 3 minutes at 80 percent effort” and you run an 8-minute mile on average, I would want your pace to be around a 7:00 to 6:30-minute mile pace.

Incorporate Strength Training:

Incorporating a strength training program, or cross training, into your existing running schedule is critical if you have plans on becoming an injury-free, fast runner.

You have to have a comprehensive plan when it comes to training for anything over 13.1 miles. This also means, that in terms of running, you have to switch up the elevation, the intensity and the speed.

Adding a lifting or strength training cycle to an existing running regiment will make you a better runner. This type of cross training makes you more powerful and more efficient. It will also decrease the amount of time spent running and make your muscles stronger, limiting your risk of injury.

This explosive extension of the knee, hip and ankle is triple extension, and this is the key to athletic power or explosiveness. Improving your ability to move powerfully and explosively is a necessity when it comes to improving your race pace. Think about runners who don’t lift. Their muscles are being used in the same fashion, in the same way almost every day. On the other hand, runners who have stronger muscles have more of a safety net when it comes to protecting their bones and joints from the impact of running.

By using weightlifting movements such as the power clean and power snatch, you can begin to unlock explosive power that can help propel you forward better and more efficiently. Movements like deadlifts and squats will also improve how your posterior chain, which I referred to in point two, moves as well.

For example, shin splints come from putting too much pressure on your tibia bone. Although, the reason you are getting shin splints isn’t necessarily because you run too much, it’s because the muscles around your bone aren’t strong enough to withstand the pressure put on your tibia.

Bones grow stronger in response to muscles growing stronger. It goes hand-in-hand.

Improving range of motion through hip joint flexion, hip joint extension, and ankle mobility exercises will make your runs smoother and effortless.

If you want to get faster, you need to start doing joint-specific strength exercises or lifts that use the same neuromuscular pathways as running. Incorporating a strength conditioning program into your existing running regiment that duplicates the neuromuscular usage of the aerobic and anaerobic pathways is how you become a better, more efficient athlete.

Start Doing: Cleans, back squats, deadlifts and snatches.

Other Training Tips:

Eliminate your heel-to-toe strike—Usually a heel to toe strike indicates an over-stride, which usually means that you are landing with your heel in front of your hips, virtually pulling your entire body weight with your foot instead of using the ground as a spring-board to naturally propel yourself forward. Landing with a midfoot/ball of your foot strike, means you are landing under your hips, which naturally leans your forward, creating a more efficient form of movement. Think: less time on the ground, means less impact, which means less injury.

Increase your cadence—Increase your strides per minute. This will also decrease the time you spend on the ground. Decreasing your risk of injury. Intermediate runners will usually run about 160 strides per minute, while more advanced runners will hit around 180 strides per minute.

Do hill work—Hill repeats or sprints are like resistance training for runners. Training hills will improve your v02 max. Another interesting component about training hills is that it improves your posterior chain, which for runners, is pretty weak. Your posterior chain consists of your biceps femoris, gluteus maximus, erector spinae muscle group, trapezius and posterior deltoids, which is weak for about 95 percent of runners. Strengthening these muscles and the tendons that connect them, will help you to maintain your race pace on the hills.

Low-key endurance—Only 1-2 distance runs per week (something over 8 miles). Endurance runs are essential to marathon and half-marathon training since they help your body get used to the duration of exercise and acclimate your mind to the mental toughness these races require.

Travel Smart: 5 Pieces of Exercise Equipment You Can Fit in Your Carry-On

 

Don't let traveling deter you from working out. All of the following pieces of equipment are virtually weightless and can fit in your carry-on: 

1. Perform Better Bands

2. Rogue Jump Rope 

3. Gliding Discs 

4. Yourself (For Calisthenics) 

5. Resistance Bands

Ideas for Workouts: 


12 minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) of: 12 push ups, 20 mountain climbers with gliders, 60 second jump rope, and 6 burpees

20 minute EMOM: (every minute on the minute): Min 1: 20 sit ups, Min 2: 45 second plank, Min 3: 20 side shuffle walks with Perform Better Band, Min 4: 20 split squats (feet together and jump out to squat stance) with Perform Better Band 

5 Rounds for time: 400 meter run, 10 burpees, 5 bear crawls with perform better band on your wrists, push up at the bottom, and 20 walking lunges 

30 Minute AMRAP: 20 mountain climbers with gliders, 2 min run, 20 bicep curls with Resistance Bands, 15 flys with resistance band, 15 jump squats

Even just 10 minutes per day of high intensity exercise can make a difference in your metabolism and overall health. Here are 3 AMRAPs that you can do on your own to get in you daily workout: 

1. 10 Minutes (As Many Rounds As Possible) 

10 push ups, 10 20-meter shuttle runs (suicides), 22 walking lunges and 6 burpees 

2. 20 minutes (As Many Rounds As Possible) WITH Dumbbells (15-20lbs)

10 Thrusters, 20 back lunges, 10 burpees with dumbbells, and 400 meter run 

3. 15 minute AMRAP 

6 single leg bear crawls to a push up (3 each leg), 20 hollow rocks, 10 pull ups, and a 200 meter row on ski erg or erg. 

Cardio Before or After Weights?

When your workouts have purpose, you get results and to form a habit, and ultimately create a lifestyle, you need results, mental and physical.

I’ve had several people ask me how to program their weeks in terms of cardio and weights. What the right balance? What comes first when I do them together? The weights or the cardio?

I think most people ask themselves this question. I’ve been a trainer for over 6 years and I still ask myself what I can do to make the balance between cardio and weights even more effective.

It’s difficult to know what to do and when. And the truth is, cross training is different for everyone.

 

Cardio and then strength train? Or Strength train and then cardio? 

To lose weight, it’s more effective to do weights and then cardio. You have to burn through all of your glycogen storages using your anaerobic system (when you lift) so you can burn fat using your aerobic system (when your run). Glycogen, which comes from carbohydrates, is your body’s preferred source of fuel for exercise. Once this is depleted from weight lifting, your body goes on to burn the fat.

How to do them both.

I find it’s really effective to have at least 3 workouts a week that you combine weight training and cardio. These are best set up by strength training for 20-30 minutes, body weight exercises and heavy, explosive movements, and then doing either an aerobic run or intervals after. Which run you do is contingent upon what your running schedule is the rest of the week.

 

Why runners should strength train. 

3 reasons: Injury prevention, to increase overall running economy, and to boost performance. Strength training also improves fatigue resistance, which will make you a more efficient and faster runner.

Meghan's Tips:

Program 2 pure aerobic days, 3 cross training days, and one anaerobic day. English–> Run or spin twice a week for 45-60 min, 3 days cross training 30-40 minutes of lifting and then a run, and have one day where you just strength train.

Start thinking about your running in terms of minutes, not miles. Operating at an intense capacity for a 21 minute interval workout will always burn more calories than a 60 minute run because the post exercise burn is a lot greater.

Every day is leg day because those are big muscles. And the bigger the muscle, the more calories burned.

Rest when you are sore. That’s the only time you can say screw the program  LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!

By: Meghan Takacs (@meg_takacs)

 

5 Ways to WAKE UP in the Morning

 

Set your alarm to a different sound every morning. Hearing an unfamiliar or weird noise in the morning will wake your senses up.


Set a big glass of water next to your bed and chug it first thing when you wake up.


Sleep in your workout clothes. Seriously.


Set 2 goals you want to accomplish in the notes of your phone every morning; it will motivate you to wake up and go get it!


Hold a Child’s Pose in bed and think about what you want out of today. Then get up and go get it.