Raised L-Sits

Are you ready for another great stabilization exercise? L-sits are one of my favorite core strengthening exercises to perform because you can engage your entire core with one simple move. L-sits are a great exercise to add to any workout plan, and no matter what your fitness level, there is always room for growth and improvement with this exercise.

Raised L Sit

How to do Raised L Sits:
1. Grab two bars or stable surfaces of equal height and set them about 1 to 2 feet apart from each other. (The distance apart depends on the comfort of each person individually)
2. Place one hand on each surface and squat down to prepare for the exercise.
3. With your arms straight, raise your legs up off the floor in front of you.
4. Straighten your legs so they are now parallel to the floor.
5. Hold this position for as long as you can and then lower your legs back to the floor.
6. Repeat this exercise for the allotted amount of sets.

TIPS:
1. Track your progress with L-sits. The first time you try this exercise, you may only be able to hold this position for a few seconds, but after only a few weeks, you will see a huge difference in what you can do. Seeing your time increase will help motivate you to keep pushing your limits.
2. Keep your chest open and up. Keep your back straight and do not hunch when doing this exercise. Hunching will activate the wrong muscles and may even cause muscle strain.
3. Breathe. Like most stabilization exercises, it is common for people to hold their breath. I am sometimes guilty of this too, but holding your breath will cause unnecessary tension throughout your entire body which will actually make this exercise harder.
4. Look straight ahead! Try not to look down at the floor or at your legs, and don’t lift your head up. Pick something straight in front of you to focus on.
5. Your toes can be flexed or pointed during this exercise, but choose one. You want to really activate your legs and keep them straight and tight in this workout. If you let your feet just dangle, you will not be fully engaging your legs in this exercise.
6. If you do not have bars for this exercise, you can use two platforms, chairs, or even stacks of books.
7. My goal for this exercise is usually to hold the L-sit from 30-60 seconds and I do about 5 sets. If I do them right in a row, I try to take about a one minute break in between each set.

Have you ever tried Raised L-sits? Let me know what you think of this exercise and let me know if you have any other questions or comments by emailing me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com.

Killer Core Workout

Photography:  Peter Brown Apparel: Body Aware

Photography: Peter Brown
Apparel: Body Aware

When it comes to core workouts, I like to dedicate one day during the week to just core exercises. This workout is the one that I have been using for the past few weeks to help build and tone my core. So far I have been feeling and seeing some great results. The thing I really like about this workout is that it does not only focus on one area of your abdominals, but instead focuses on your entire midsection from your abs, to your obliques, and even your lower back. This workout consists of groups of exercises that should be done right after another followed by a long rest. This will test your endurance and will help give you the results you are looking for. Try it out and let me know what you think.

KILLER CORE WORKOUT!

Cardio and Warmup:
30 minutes of Cardio
10 minutes of Stretching

Group 1: (3 sets)
Leg Lifts with Alternating Stability Ball x 15 reps (Click Here)
Reverse Crunch with Stability Ball x 25 reps (Click Here)
Leg Lifts With Stability Ball x 10 reps (Click Here)
90 second rest
* Do 3 sets of this Group of exercises

Group 2: (3 sets)
Kettlebell Side Bend x 20 reps on right
Kettlebell Side Bend x 20 reps on left
Ab roller x 15 reps
90 second rest
* Do 3 sets of this Group of exercises

Group 3: (3 sets)
Raised Side Plank on right x Hold for 1 minute (Click Here)
Raised Side Plank on left x Hold for 1 minute (Click Here)
Toes to Bar x 10 reps
* Do 3 sets of this Group of exercises

Group 4: (3 sets)
Hollow Hold x Hold for 1 minute or until failure
60 second rest
* Do 3 sets of this exercise

Group 5:
Back hyperextensions x 200 reps. Rest when needed.
* I usually do about 5-10 at a time and then rest for about 5-10 seconds.
Stretch

That is my Killer Core Workout that I have been doing once a week for the past month. It is definitely not easy, but it will help get you a strong and toned core. Let me know what you think of the workout and contact me with any questions, comments, or ideas for new topics at corestrengthalec@gmail.com

Feature Friday: Sandy Vo

Sandy Vo 1

First name: Sandy
Last name: Vo
City: Albany
State: New York
Age: 21
Height: 5’2″
Weight: 128lbs
Profession: Communication major, Business minor. Founder of Peer Academic Review Board for the school. Director of Communications for American Marketing Association. Proud intern at this awesome music company called Tunigo. If you’re a music lover, this will be your best friend for life.

Follow Her:
Twitter: @Msfitique
Instagram: Msfitique
Blog: http://www.msfitique.com

When did you start working out?:
I started this new healthy lifestyle, working out and eating clean consistently late March last year. I didn’t start lifting until July though! I’ve seen tremendous changes ever since I started lifting. To think that I used to be the one who was scared of weights because it would make me bulky is too funny to even think about it. Start lifting ladies 😉

Sandy Vo 2

How many days a week do you work out?:
I work out 6 days a week and make sure to have one rest day for my body to recuperate. Some weeks I have ultra energy and find it hard to have a rest day. That’s what this lifestyle does to you though. It makes you feel so good, mentally and physically, that you start absolutely loving it. Being an ex-college party girl who was almost always hung over, working out and eating clean was non- existent in my life. When I started, I did it because I felt like I absolutely had to in order to get healthy. Now, I do it as a hobby more than anything. It’s incredible how much my mental state has changed since then too. It’s so worth ditching parties, cheesy pizza and liver killing alcohol for =).

How long is your average workout?:
My average workout is 1 hour. When I first started and had no clue what to do in the gym, I’d hog the elliptical for almost 2 hours and got super skinny, and fragile looking as a result. Now, lifting and having knowledge about the right kind of training, it only takes 1 hour of my life a day to get fit. There are no excuses there.

Favorite muscles to exercise:
I love working out my glutes because I have some pretty fun exercises for that, and I love seeing the changes week to week. I also love working my legs overall, and shoulders.

Sandy Vo 3

Least favorite muscles to exercise:
If I had to pick, I’d say chest because I’m not a huge fan of bench presses.

Do you have any fitness goals? If so, what are they?:
Yes! I’m actually competing for my very first show June 29th in Boston with the WBFF. After losing 30 pounds since I started this journey less than a year ago, it’s been rough to get my physique to where I wanted it. I was looking fragile and I wanted to be fit. So I started slowly upping my calories to gain weight but I did it the wrong way and I gained back all the weight. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to learn. I started prepping in January actually because I wanted to do this the healthiest way possible by giving myself time. So far I’ve learned that slow progress is the best kind of progress and real results take time. Patience is everything! I gained back all the weight because I was frustrated with not seeing the kind of results that I did. In January 23, I was 140. Now March 29, I am 128. Competing for me, has nothing to do about winning a trophy. That will be my cherry on top. It’s more about testing how strong your mind really is. Training for a show isn’t easy but it will be worth it in the end.

Do you have any fitness inspirations? If so, who are they?:
– Amanda Latona, super hot body with a kick ass personality.
– Justine Munro
– Andrea Brazier is also another gorgeous, hard body inspiration.

What supplements do you take or recommend?:
I only take multi vitamins, fish oil, vitamin d, iron (because I’m low on iron) and that’s it! I don’t believe in using fat burners and unnecessary supplements that may harm my body. All the nutrients that we need is in our food! Supplements are just that, they supplement our diet, not replace it.

Sandy Vo 4

Can you give a brief overview of your diet?:
Meal 1- 4 egg whites, 1 egg. 1/2 c oats
Meal 2- 1/2 c cottage cheese, blueberries
Meal 3- 3 oz chicken with small salad and 1/4 c brown rice
Meal 4- 3 oz chicken with small salad
Meal 5 -3 oz tilapia with veggies and sweet potato
Meal 6 – Protein shake
Of course I add my own little twist and turns to make my food super delicious. I turn meal one into scrumptious pancakes

Do you have any workouts that you specifically like, that you believe are very affective?:
HIIT is very affective. I’m talking about a lot of calories and fat burned in a short amount of time. It’s also fun to play around with the intensity and challenge yourself. Normal steady cardio is boring. I find myself seeing the most progress with high intensity interval training always.

How much cardio do you do? (Per day or per week):
Because I am prepping for a show right now, I do cardio 6 days a week. I do one session in the morning and one after lifting.

Sandy Vo 5

Do you have any tips for people who are trying to reach their fitness goals?:
Start by believing in yourself. Believe that you can achieve that physique that you have always dreamed of, but more importantly, believe that you have that strong mentality and power inside of you to do absolutely anything. Back then, running at 8.0 mph for even 20 seconds was impossible to me. It was impossible because I limited myself. But once I tapped into that power I knew I always had inside of me, I finished a mile in 6 min and 30 sec. I’ll never forget how accomplished I felt. Another super important tip is be patient! All your hard work will pay off if you are willing to be patient for it. The small progresses are the best. Learn to love them, reward yourself for them versus picking on yourself for not seeing any changes. I promise you that you can wait just a little bit longer while continuing to do what you do, you WILL get there!

Do you have any other things you would like to say? (Comments, Suggestions, etc)?:
I’m currently in the making of my own incredible fitness journey and I have yet to be at the level that I want to be at but looking back, the fact that I have made it this far is what thrills me the most. I’m super excited to see how far I am going to take myself with this show coming up! I’m taking my readers a long with me through my journey on Youtube as well, so feel free to watch me go!

Did you like this Feature Friday Inspiration? Do you want to know more about Sandy Vo? Do you think you have what it takes to be my next Feature Friday Inspiration? Email me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com

Leg Lifts with Alternating Stability Ball

I obviously like to use the stability ball in many of my core exercises and this exercise is no different. I like to do this exercise almost every time I do a core workout! I can feel it really working and strengthening my entire core from my upper abs, to my lower abs, obliques, and even lower back! Similar to the regular leg lift exercise with the stability ball I posted a few days ago, this exercise adds more difficulty to the standard leg lift exercise and really helps tone the “V” cut in your lower ab/hip region.

Leg Lift (w. alt. stability ball) - Position 1

Leg Lift (w. alt. stability ball) – Position 1


Leg Lift (w. alt. stability ball) - Position 2

Leg Lift (w. alt. stability ball) – Position 2


Leg Lift (w. alt. stability ball) - Position 3

Leg Lift (w. alt. stability ball) – Position 3


Leg Lift (w. alt. stability ball) - Position 4

Leg Lift (w. alt. stability ball) – Position 4

To Perform a Leg Lift with Alternating Stability Ball:

    1. Lie flat on the ground with a stability ball between your feet.
    2. Extend both arms straight back behind your head.
    3. With the stability ball between your feet, raise the stability ball a few inches off the ground (Now you are in Position 1 as shown in the first picture to the right).
    4. While still squeezing the stability ball between your feet, lift your legs up so the stability ball is above your lower torso and lift your arms to touch and grab the stability ball (You are now in Position 2 as shown in the second picture to the right).
    5. Grab the stability ball with your hands, and let go of the stability ball with your feet.
    6. Bring the stability ball back behind your head so that it is a few inches off the floor while lowering your legs back down, leaving your feet a few inches off the floor. (This is Position 3, shown in the third picture to the right).
    6. While still holding the stability ball in your hands, raise the ball back up over your toso and raise your legs straight up to wrap around the sides of the stability ball (You are now in Position 4 as shown in the fourth picture to the right).
    7. Switch your grip of the stability ball from your hands to your feet.
    8. While squeezing the stability ball between your feet, lower your legs back down having the stability ball only a few inches off the floor and lower your arms back behind your head. (You have now returned back to Position 1)
    9. Repeat the exercise for the recommended amount of reps (I usually do three sets of 15 reps).





Tips:

    1. When lowering your legs, both with and without the stability ball, it is important to activate your core and keep your back flat on the ground. Try not to create any sort of arch in your back during this exercise
    2. Try to make this exercise one fluid motion; don’t do each position one at a time. Instead, flow through the motions and make them nice and controlled.
    3. Exhale while lowering your legs down toward the floor.
    4. If you have never tried this exercise before, first try doing the exercise without the stability ball. If you can comfortably perform the exercise, then add the stability ball into your workout.
    5. Start with 8-10 reps of this exercise and work on reaching more reps as your core becomes stronger.
    6. To increase the intensity of this workout, you can also wear ankle/wrist weights for increased resistance.
    Hope you enjoy this exercise as much as I do. Let me know if you end up using it in your core workout routine. Have any questions or concerns? Email me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com

Feature Friday: Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas 1

First name: Dylan
Last name: Thomas
City: Toronto
Province: Ontario
Age: 22
Height: 6’0″
Weight: 210lbs (throughout the year) 195lbs (competition weight)
Profession: Trainer/Online Training Coach

Follow Him:
Twitter: @DylanThomasfit
Instagram: Dylanthomas_fitness_toronto

When did you start working out?:
When I was 16.

How many days a week do you work out?:
While prepping for competition, I’m training 5 days a week with weights and on my off days from weights I will do HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). Throughout the year, if I’m not doing a show, I typically train 4-5 days a week.

How long is your average workout?:
About 45 minutes.

Favorite muscles to exercise:
Legs (I’ve always admired people with great leg development. It’s a sign of true fitness.)

Dylan Thomas 2

Least favorite muscles to exercise:
I dont have one. I enjoy training my entire body.

Do you have any fitness goals? If so, what are they?:
I would like to earn my Pro card this year.

Do you have any fitness inspirations? If so, who are they?:
Arnold, Steve Reeves, Bob Paris, Frank Zane, and before I was into bodybuilding I was inspired by a rugby player, Gavin Henson. I greatly admired his strength and physique, as well as skill, and it inspired me to go to the weight room for the first time.


What supplements do you take or recommend?:
Whey protein, creatine, multi, fish oils.

Can you give a brief overview of your diet?:
It changes from day to day, but at the moment I’m carb cycling so every 3rd or 4th day I’ll have a re-feed day. My Typical day is 230g carbs/275g protein/80g fat and every 3rd day my day would be 470g carbs/250g protein/75g fat.

What does your diet consist of during a Bulking Phase?:
During a bulking phase I am not nearly as strict with my eating habits. I’ll eat over 5-600 grams of carbs a day and about 275-300 grams of protein with 70-80 grams of fat. These types of numbers allow me really to eat whatever I’d like whenever I’d like.

Dylan Thomas3

What does your diet consist of during a Cutting Phase?:
During a cutting phase, I’ll begin weighing my food out and counting everything I eat against my allotted macronutrients breakdown for the day so I do not over eat.

You say you load on carbs every few days… What foods do you eat during these times to load on good carbs?:
My go to carb sources are in no particular order as I don’t view one being better than another: basmati rice, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, Ezekiel cereal, Ezekiel bread, fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and bananas, as well as my green veggies favorites being asparagus, broccoli & green beans. The important thing is usually to count all the carbs in everything you eat. For instance, you’re eating oatmeal and it is a “carb” source, but you still need to count the protein and fat in the oatmeal otherwise you’ll likely go over what you should be eating for the day without even realizing it!

Do you have any workouts that you specifically like, that you believe are very affective?:
Higher volume on lower body (15+ reps) and between 10-12reps on upper body. At the moment I’ll incorporate a lot of supersets and dropsets though as a means to increase the intensity of my workouts while getting ready to compete (April 27th).

How much cardio do you do? (Per day or per week):
Two times a week I do 20 minutes of high intensity interval training (all out sprints). I also like to walk for about 30 minutes each day on weight training days just to burn a little more calories.

Dylan Thomas 4

Do you have any tips for people who are trying to reach their fitness goals?:
Stay consistent and diet over everything else will determine your success in achieving your dream body.

How do people get ahold of you for your online training?:
If people our interested in my online training services they can reach me at dylanthomasfitness@hotmail.com.

Do you have any other things you would like to say? (Comments, Suggestions, etc)?:
“mens sana in corpore sano – a healthy mind in a healthy body”

Did you like this Feature Friday Inspiration? Do you want to know more about Dylan Thomas? Do you think you have what it takes to be my next Feature Friday Inspiration? Email me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com

Leg Lifts with Stability Ball

Leg Lift (w. stability ball) - Position 1

Leg Lift w. stability ball – Position 1

This is another variation of a leg lift that I personally love doing in tandem with the Reverse Crunch exercise with the Stability ball (Click Here to see the Reverse Crunch stability ball exercise). Using the stability ball adds some resistance to the traditional leg lift which will activate your core muscles and your hips flexors. This exercise specifically helps target your lower abs and help create that “V” cut in your lower ab/hip region.

To Perform a Leg Lift with a Stability Ball:

    1. Lie flat on the ground with a stability ball between your feet.
    2. Place both hand at your sides (Make sure to keep your back flat on the ground).
    3. While squeezing the stability ball between your feet, raise the stability ball a few inches off the ground (Now you are in Position 1 as shown in the picture above).
    4. While still squeezing the stability ball between your feet, lift your legs up to create a 90 degree angle with the floor (You are now in Position 2 as shown in the picture below).
    5. Lower your legs back down to Position 1 with the stability ball a few inches off the ground.
    6. Raise and lower your legs between Position 1 and Position 2 for the recommended amount of reps (I do 3 sets of 15 reps).
Leg Lift w. stability ball - Position 2

Leg Lift w. stability ball – Position 2

Tips:

    1. As I said earlier, this is an exercise I like to do an tandem with the Reverse Crunch stability ball exercise. I usually do 25 reps of the reverse crunch exercise straight into 15 reps of the leg lift exercise, both using the stability ball. This gives my core a nice burn!
    2. Keep your back flat on the floor during this entire exercise. It is common to want to lift your lower back off the floor, but in order to target your core muscles to their fullest potential, your traps all the way down to your tailbone should be on the floor.
    3. Exhale while lowering your legs from Position 2 to Position 1 to activate your abdominals.
    4. You must use controlled motions during this exercise! Focus on using your core muscles to lift the stability ball.
    5. Try holding your legs in Position 1 for a second before raising your legs to Position 2. This will increase core strength and cause you to activate your core muscles affectively.
    6. If you are just beginning this exercise, first try doing Level 1 leg lifts. If you can comfortably perform level 1 leg lifts, move on to try level 2 and level 3 leg lifts. If you can perform those exercises, then move on to this exercise with the stability ball. This exercise is definitely harder than the other variations of leg lifts so start with 8-10 reps of this exercise and work on reaching more reps as your core becomes stronger.

Hope you enjoy this exercise as much as I do. Let me know if you end up using it in your core workout routine. Have any questions or concerns? Email me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com

Reverse Crunch (with Stability Ball)

A few days ago, I posted an exercise I frequently do called the Reverse Crunch. That exercise is great for core strength and toning, but when I am at a gym, and there is proper equipment around, I like to mix things up a bit. This following exercise is the same as a Reverse Crunch, but you use a stability ball to add some difficulty. The stability ball adds a small amount of resistance, and it also forces you to use better form. You must tightly squeeze your abdominals in order to lift the ball from the ground and it also does not allow your legs to sway too far from a proper position.

Reverse Crunch (w. ball) -  Position 1

Reverse Crunch (w. ball) – Position 1


Reverse Crunch (w. ball) -  Position 2

Reverse Crunch (w. ball) – Position 2

To perform a Reverse Crunch with a Stability Ball:

    1. Find a stability ball that allows you to rest your legs on top while creating a 90 degree angle at your hips and your knees (your calves and feet will be resting on the ball, parallel to the floor).
    2. Lie flat on your back with your hands at your sides.
    3. Place the Stability ball under your calves, resting against the back of your hamstrings. Your knees should only be a few inches apart.
    4. Squeeze your abs and legs in order to lift the stability ball slightly off the floor (You are now in Position 1 as shown in the first picture to the right).
    5. While squeezing the stability ball, raise your knees to your chest.
    6. While in motion of bringing your knees to your chest, roll your pelvis back and raise your hips up off the floor, creating a curve in your spine (You are now in Position 2 as shown in the second picture to the right).
    5. Hold Position 2 for a second and squeeze your abdominals.
    6. Slowly lower your legs and pelvis back down to Position 1.
    7. Repeat the exercise for the recommended amount of reps (I usually do 3-5 sets of 15 reps).

Tips:

    1. Just like any serious ab exercise, control is important! These motions do not depend on momentum, but rather slow controlled motions that engage your muscles.
    2. If this exercise is too difficult, I recommend starting with Reverse Crunches without the Stability Ball. I give step by step directions on how to perform this exercise here: Click Here
    3. Notice that when lowering my legs back down to Position 1, I try not to let the ball touch the floor; this will keep your core activated the entire exercise. If you need to take a break mid-exercise, lower the ball to the floor completely, and when ready, lift the ball off the floor again.
    4. Another possible variation of this exercise, that I find a bit easier to do, would be to have your knees further apart on the ball. The wider your knees are from each other, the easier this exercise appears to be.
    5. Make sure to exhale while bringing your legs up into your chest (from Position 1 to Position 2), and inhale when returning your legs back down to Position 1.
    6. Squeeze your abdominals when you hit the peak of Position 2. You should feel a burn in your entire core.
    7. If you are performing this exercise on a mat, DO NOT hold the edge of the mat. Leave your hands flat on the ground, and depend solely on your abdominals to perform this exercise.
    8. You will notice that it is common for the ball to slip from your legs during this exercise. Try your hardest to keep it in place. If it does move, simply use your hands to get it back into a proper position and continue the exercise.
    9. Stability balls come in all different sizes. Try to find one that allows you to make a 90 degree angle at your hips and knees, letting your calves and feet lie parallel to the ground while resting on top of the ball.

Let me know what you think of this new variation of the Reverse Crunch. I hope you like it! If you have any questions or concerns, email me at corestrengthalec@gmail.com