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.
"Life is more fun when you have the energy to live it." We asked personal trainers and professional athletes what it means to them to be 'healthy'.
Alice Hector – Elite Professional Athlete
Healthy to me is the ability to do your chosen activities freely and feel good about yourself. It does not mean dieting or restriction in any way, but subconsciously making good food and lifestyle decisions (good habits) and also being relaxed about chocolate/wine/treats when you fancy them.
From my stance as an elite athlete, healthy does not necessarily mean elite performance (as that can easily tip the balance into being unhealthy, just as a sedentary lifestyle can) but I believe you can be healthy and be a top professional athlete and drink wine - just not the whole bottle!
Anne Iarchy – Personal Trainer
Having a lifestyle that combines healthy eating, regular physical activity, and a positive mindset. Striving to be disease-free by leading that lifestyle. And being able to do whatever you want to do thanks to that lifestyle, e.g. not being limited by mobility, injury, size or shape.
Polly Hale – Personal Trainer
Being fit enough to do everything I want to do, from still carrying my kids when needed (the eldest is 10!) to recently joining pole dancing classes. Life is more fun when you have the energy to live it to the max without compromise.
Ken Byrne – Ironman Athlete
Being healthy to me means being happy, being able to be active, finding a good balance between work and family, and not being too hard on myself to achieve everything. Understanding others and trying to deal with life's stresses the best I can.
Alvaro Martin – Elite Triathlete
Being healthy means, for me, thinking about the right choices and acting on them. It's not just about food; it's about your whole life. Books, music, friends, work and everything makes up your life!
Leanne James – Personal Trainer & Triathlete
Being healthy to me would be feeling good about myself, making the right choices and creating the right balance between family, work, fitness and nutrition, and friends; which is never easy! And then not giving myself a hard time if it doesn’t always go to plan.
Making the right choices for me can be anything from the right food choices, or whether to push through a tough training session if feeling exhausted (and knowing when to stop!) to making time to go and have a coffee with a friend or watch my children play a sports match rather than being too busy.
Tim Harrison – Fit Food Writer
Being healthy for me has to be “whole self healthy”: mind, body and soul – holistic if you want. Your training should enhance your happiness and fuel the chance to train.
Thomas Hill – Personal Trainer
Being life-proof. Being able to do anything that life demands of me from running for the bus to wrestling with my kids to picking up all the shopping bags at once!
Being healthy, mentally as well as physically, to me means keeping healthy habits and with them striking a balance between work, life, and my sport allowing me to achieve my goals without depriving myself of activities that bring me joy. What society nowadays perceives as a healthy lifestyle with restrictive eating and an unattainable body-image of a healthy person is in my opinion unhealthy in itself. Celebrating what your body is capable of, regardless of what people think you should look like, should be the main goal. Healthy is to be kind to your body and soul.
Sundried ran a public opinion poll and are here to showcase the most popular places to run in the UK as voted for by you!
The Ridgeway is one of many beautiful National Trails in the UK which is maintained by the National Trust. This 87-mile route has been used since pre-historic times and features some incredible scenery as well as ancient relics and stunning secluded valleys. Annual ultra-marathon Race To The Stones follows this iconic trail which explains why it's such a popular event.
The Ridgeway is described as 'Britain's oldest road' and starts at the World Heritage Site in Avebury in the North Wessex Downs AONB, home to Europe's largest neolithic stone circle. The trail travels north for 139km and passes through the gentle woodland of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
This trail has been used for over 5,000 years and provides runners with unending landscape to explore along with archaeological treasures to discover. The entire western half of this trail follows byways or bridleways that have no stiles or other obstructions so as a runner you can enjoy the freedom of running without having to clamber over obstacles.
The Lake District
One of the most popular holiday destinations in the UK, the Lake District is England's largest National Park and also now holds the prestigious title of being a World Heritage Site. The Lake Distric is home to England's highest peak – Scafell Pike – as well as its deepest lake, providing a stunning backdrop for any adventurer.
Fell runners have been using the Lake District to test their limits for thousands of years and any runner would be spoilt for choice when it comes to trails and routes to follow. The unspoilt and unadulterated views are your reward while the well maintained paths and trails will take you where you need to go.
The Quantock Hills in Somerset are perhaps a lesser known Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, but are still a fantastic place to run nonetheless. Described as an area of wilderness and tranquillity, this area features rugged Jurassic coastline, deep wooded combes, and undulating farmland. This area is largely privately owned which is why it is perhaps not as popular as other areas, however it still attracts up to half a million visitors every year.
The undulating and sometimes challenging hills will provide any runner with a varied and interesting place to run and even if you're new to the area, you shouldn't get too lost. There is one 7-mile section that follows a ridge which will reward runners with uninterrupted views on both sides that will both inspire and motivate even the most casual of runner.
Undulating hills and expansive coastal paths make North Wales a fun place to run while Snowdonia and Garth Mountain add an element of wilderness and challenge if you're looking for something a little more intense.
A popular destination for active people, Snowdonia National Park in northwestern Wales is best known for hiking but of course runners will also be rewarded with the breathtaking views and scenery.
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.