Having a strong core is one of the most important parts of being fit and healthy. Whether you're male, female, young, old, we all need to have a strong core to be able to function well in other movements and to thrive in daily life. It's more than just having a six-pack or a toned tummy, a strong core goes much deeper and so you'll need to spend time working on it. Here are some key exercises and movements that you should incorporate into your weekly training to make sure yours is on point.
This is a classic exercise that most of us have done at one point in our lives - whether voluntarily or not! The plank targets deep into the core and works all of the abdominal muscles, not just the superficial ones. Make sure you keep your shoulders over your elbows and suck your stomach inwards and upwards throughout the hold. Practice this move as often as you can and see if you can beat your previous time. To work your core even more, try this variation.
This movement is one of the biggest strength exercises you can do as it targets almost every muscle group in the body. As it is weighted, the added resistance works your core more than just do basic ab exercises and you'll feel a real difference. This exercise also works your back so you will get more benefits. Keep your back straight throughout the lift and keep your stomach locked in tight for best results.
This is a gym-based exercise which requires some resistance from a cable machine. If you don't have access to a gym, you can also do this exercise with a resistance band. Hold one handle with both hands and stand away from the machine. Lock your abs tight and twist away from the weights. Squeeze your stomach inwards and feel the burn!
As a cardio exercise, most people probably wouldn't consider this to work their core. As the weight swings up into the air, squeeze your abs and feel them working. Make sure you sit into a deep squat and keep your back straight.
This is another exercise that you probably wouldn't usually consider to be a core exercise. If you do your press ups properly, you should feel your core working throughout. Keep your head in line with your spine and don't look down at the floor. Suck your stomach upwards throughout the movement and drop as low as you can each time. Try not to let your legs and back raise up into the air and keep a smooth line.
Bearbrook Running & Triathlon Club is based in Aylesbury and boasts 300 loyal members. Each year the club hosts the annual Bearbrook 10k running race which starts and finishes at Aylesbury Rugby Football Club near Wendover in the Chilterns region. This was my first race away from my home county so I was excited to see what was on offer.
The course was one of the best I've ever done for a 10k race! It is described as 'fast and fairly flat' but I was in for a treat. My home county of Essex is deathly flat and running can become a bore, so undulating hills are something I enjoy to mix it up. The first 2 miles of the 10k took us runners through beautiful countryside and an idyllic village reminiscent of the Cotswolds. As we took a left turn out of the village, the marshalls uttered the dreaded words "That's right! Up the hill you go!" and I thought okay, time for a challenge. I do like running uphill so I wasn't too worried. The hill was a long, gradual incline which meant it didn't take the wind out of my sails too much and none of the runners were having to walk it. Upon reaching the top there was a short downhill stretch which was a nice reward. However, the next marshall I passed then said something I wasn't ready for: "Great! Just 3 more hills and then the home stretch!" Three more hills! I was up for the challenge. The great thing about the hills was that they weren't too steep and they meant the time flew by. There was always a slight descent after each one so that I could get my breath back a bit before tackling the next one.
After reaching the top of the final hill I felt great, and when a marshall said "That's it! Downhill all the way now!" I looked at my watch and thought, "Really? 2 whole miles all downhill?" and that was absolutely the case! 2 glorious miles powering downhill a gentle decline which meant my joints and muscles were not put under too much pressure but I was able to run at my fastest pace and make up the time I had lost slogging up the hills.
The final 0.2 miles are back inside the Rugby Club grounds and are round the field. It was reminiscent of school cross country which was not pleasant and was on grass so I had to consciously keep pushing round. I could hear the announcer over the speakers from around a mile away from the finish so it was very encouraging to get to the end. The support at the finish was great and it made the perfect end to a perfect race.
I was utterly impressed by how well organised this race was. There was an abundance of marshals which meant every road crossing was safe and I never had to hesitate or slow down my pace. They were all incredibly friendly and supportive and it added a great atmosphere to the race. The announcer at the start line was witty and put the racers at ease before the big race. There were ample toilet, parking, and food facilities on offer meaning everything was taken care of.
Results and Prizes
The winner for 2017 was Matthieu Marshall of Southampton AC in a time of 00:32:42. I thought I might get a PB as the last 3 miles were so fast but I was 1 minute off thanks to taking the hills a little too slow in the first 3 miles. There was a branded mug for every finisher but no medal which I was rather disappointed about! There were free sports drinks, water bottles, and snacks for every finisher too which was a lovely touch.
I was hugely impressed by this race and I thoroughly enjoyed my time here! I would definitely recommend this race to others and I will probably make my way back for next year! Bearbrook Running Club is hosting its inaugural duathlon in September which should also make for a great race.
Hello, my name’s Matt Boyles, I’m a Personal Trainer based in South West London – I’m also proud to be a Sundried Ambassador. In addition to this, I run the Male FitWear Style Blog, Xythlete (www.instagram.com/XYthlete) but today I’m going to talk about my other company, Wireless Fitness.
You might not know the name, but you’ve probably come across the concept in the last couple of years: silent disco fitness. You might even have seen us on Dragon’s Den 18 months ago…!
With my business partner Dom, we realised that fitness instructors needed to be able to run their music-based classes in the park, however, council noise restrictions mean you can’t just play music out loud via a speaker. So we took the best parts of silent discos (lots of people hearing the same music through wireless headphones), and made it better by adding a microphone to the transmitter, meaning that with our Wireless Fitness kit, instructors can now speak to their class and transmit music at the same time, in crystal clarity, without disturbing anyone nearby.
We sell the equipment to fitness instructors and boot camp owners who want to add a major USP to their classes in a cluttered market. We also sell lots of kits to Spin studios and gyms (often in residential areas) who have had, or are nervous about receiving noise complaints – once they use the equipment, it reduces the risk of being shut down by the council to 0. Our third main customers are instructors who are tired of paying £60 to hire a studio every time they want to teach: grab our kit, head outside and away you go – better still, they never have to turn away anyone from a full studio!
As I’m a Personal Trainer and I love music – I really love music – it made sense for me to start running my own class with the kit as well… So I did!
I curate amazing, themed playlists each week, covering musical themes such as animals, Easter, one-name musical icons (e.g. Cher, Coolio (!) Prince, Lorde, Rihanna, Madonna) and most recently, summer (and amazingly it didn’t rain during that class).
As a nice extra benefit to attending the class, I send out the playlist each week, so the members can re-live it in their kitchens the next day!
What I love about running the class is the energy I get back from the attendees. The class itself is a high energy mix of strength training, HIIT and a bit of endurance, so it really works you hard all over, however everyone always says the headphones distract you from the exhaustion, while simultaneously helping you work a bit harder – it’s win-win.
We’ve got a great group of regulars now; it’s a really friendly bunch with no attitude, just supportive people enjoying getting fit in the sun with amazing music and my terrible puns.
However, there is always space for a few more, if you would like to come down and try it out, it’s just £10 for the best hour of exercise in the UK – email me on email@example.com if you’d like to know more beforehand.
What better way is there to spend your Sunday lunchtime encased in a world of pain for an hour or more?
To be honest, other than Yorkshire puddings and roasties, I'm sure you'll agree not much beats a Sprint Triathlon (right?)
Southend-on-Sea provided a great location for the first Sundried Triathlon. The town really welcomed the event and a whopping 2500 people came out to support the 300 athletes, many of whom were competing in their first triathlon.
The swim took place in the Thames Estuary with a refreshing midday start, due to the tide times. 1 hour before the start all we could see was mud flats for miles. I'm familiar with a non-wetsuit swim, but a non-water swim? That would be a first.
There was no need to worry. A mini tsunami came in as scheduled and the bay rapidly filled with clean salt water. We flip-flopped our way 500m along the sea front to the start, (flip-flops were then deposited back at the start for us), and the swim was simply point-to-point parallel with the beach: great for nervous swimmers who didn't have to venture far out their depth, and nice for spectators who could walk along and see the race unfold.
After failing to hold the fast feet of the lead man who set off beside me, I found another set, then decided to have a go on my own and make it hurt. The speed that is easy in a draft becomes really hard when in front, and I probably should have stayed where I was, but as this was a training race there was no need for energy conservation!
A smooth transition and we were quickly on to the fast, flat but quite technical bike course. The organisers are talking about a closed-road multi-lap affair for next year which I think would really draw the crowds in further and give it the buzz of a French Grand Prix tri: something the UK scene could really benefit from. I lost one place to another fast boy through the 20km bike leg, finishing up that bit in 4th; feeling rather power-deprived throughout. Some days you're the firework, some, the damp squib.
The run was out and back along the sea-front where people out for their Sunday stroll probably wondered why all these lycra-loving lovelies were self-flagellating themselves upon this Day of Rest, but they were giving great words of encouragement and seemed really into the spirit of the event: Southend seems to be a perfect match for a triathlon.
So, back to the run. 2.5k in a straight line does seem a long way, and to turn around and repeat the feat was another painful prospect, especially when you could see the Sundried finish banner over a mile away in the distance, not getting any closer...
Coming into a shorter triathlon as a longer distance athlete, you have visions of it 'being over quickly' and being 'no big deal' but I tell you what, Sprint is long and Sprint is hard! And I could only seem to muster limited speed anyway, but it was hurting as much as I could make it, so will hopefully prove an excellent training session as part of my preparation for the European 70.3 champs in 3 weeks’ time.
Coming to the finish, I didn't have much time to celebrate the female win and 3rd place overall as I was very aware of the clock ticking close to 60 minutes, and I always enjoy dipping under an hour in a Sprint. Sadly, I was 25 seconds too fat, but this will come in the next few weeks as I start to sharpen up for my first peak of the season. A couple of kilos makes a lot of difference to speed!
I would like to thank Sundried for their support of me as a pro triathlete this year, providing great PR opportunities as well as beautifully crafted clothing, and now adding another string to their bow: by producing a fantastic first event. Sundried really does stand for quality through and through. I look forward to seeing how the Southend Triathlon develops in years to come, and will definitely be back for that sub 1 hour in the future!
About the author: Alice Hector is a prolific elite professional triathlete, having already won the Volcano Triathlon in Lanzarote earlier this year. She is also a professional fitness model and has done lots of work with Sundried as an athlete ambassador.
Garmin Inc today announced the vívosmart 3, an activity tracker with an ultra-slim design and a hidden display that’s only on when you need it. The vívosmart 3 brings high-end fitness monitoring tools such as VO2 max and fitness age, and wellness monitoring with all-day stress tracking, to the popular vívosmart family. The vívosmart 3 also provides 24/7 heart rate monitoring and automatically tracks activity including steps, floors climbed, calories burned, intensity minutes, sleep and more. The vívosmart 3 boasts a battery life of up to five days and can be worn while swimming or showering.
The vívosmart 3 introduces exciting fitness monitoring tools designed to provide customers with a better understanding of their body’s overall physical performance. It’s the first product in the Garmin vívo family to estimate VO2 max, a measurable indication of aerobic performance previously available only in higher-end Garmin running watches. Users will see their VO2 max score translated into a fitness level, ranging from poor to superior. VO2 max is also used to calculate fitness age, a relatable metric that puts a user’s fitness level in terms of an age. Through hard work and exercise, users can increase their VO2 max and reduce their fitness age. The vívosmart 3 also includes a new Strength Training activity that lets users stay focused on their form and does the rep counting for them. Strength Training keeps track of reps, sets and even rest times during user’s free weight and bodyweight exercises. This data gets sent to Garmin ConnectTM where it can be reviewed later in greater detail.
For those seeking to live a healthier life, improving one’s emotional well-being can be as important as increasing time spent at the gym. To this end, the vívosmart 3 adds wellness monitoring with the all-day stress tracking feature. When users are not on the move, the vívosmart 3 tracks heart rate variability, which in turn is used to calculate and measure stress level, displayed as a wedge graph right on the device. Stress levels high? The vívosmart 3 features a breathing exercise that users can access from the device to encourage relaxation and help lower stress level. A longer timeline of stress level is accessible on Garmin Connect which can help customers identify patterns and make lifestyle changes to avoid or better cope with stress-inducing situations.
The vívosmart 3 automatically syncs with the Garmin Connect mobile app throughout the day to save stats for easy access later. In Garmin Connect, a free online community, users can track their workouts, strength training activities, stress levels, sleep patterns and join online challenges to compete against friends and earn virtual badges. They can also receive Garmin Connect Insights, smart wellness insights personalized to each user that provide cues to help them reach goals, a pat on the back when milestones have been met, and relevant healthy tips from experts. For extra motivation, Insights also show users how they stack up in comparison to other people like them.
Connection meets convenience with smart notification vibration alerts delivered right the wrist for emails, texts, calls, calendar reminders, app alerts, social media updates and any other notification from a compatible smartphone2. Users will also benefit from the ability to control music on their smartphone from the vívosmart 3, send an alert to locate a misplaced smartphone, and remote control a Garmin VIRB camera (sold separately).
With its inconspicuous band and new slimmer profile, the vívosmart 3 complements every athleisure style. The device features a hidden display only visible when activated via gestures, alerts or notifications. When not in use, the screen disappears from view. Available in black (small/medium and large) and purple (small/medium), the vívosmart 3 is the perfect companion for the office, the gym, the pool, the studio and everywhere in between. The vívosmart is available for purchase at a retail price of $139.99 which is around £112.