Whether you’re lifting weights in HIIT class or doing your own body-weight exercises, there’s one important thing to do: Engage your core. Doing so activates the major muscles that are responsible for maintaining a good posture: your abs, obliques, lower back and many other deeper muscles that power you through a workout and protect you from injuries.
Many trainers use this analogy: Imagine blowing a balloon. You’ll have to summon enough strength from your core to send air out of your mouth. In doing so, your midsection naturally tightens. That’s how it should feel when you activate your core muscles.
The thing is, it can be hard to tell if you’re engaging your core properly, especially during fast movements like jump squats and kettlebell swings.
One quick fix, according to Sara May, an instructor at Triplefit Singapore, is to break your exercise into two parts: the easy and the challenging. Inhale during the easy part; exhale during the challenging bit.
“The toughest part is when you use the most energy, like rising from a squat. That’s when you should exhale, as you’ll activate your core and avoid hurting your lower back,” she says.
Try these in your next workout: At the rowing machine, exhale at the pull. During a dumbbell press, exhale when pushing the weight up. In a push-up, exhale when coming up. When doing the Superman exercise, exhale when you’re lifting your chest, arms and legs off the floor, then inhale to return.
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12 The percentage increase in leg strength exercisers netted when they replaced one 60-minute cardio session a week with two 30-minute HIIT cycling classes each week for six weeks. Hop on the stationary bike at your gym for a DIY interval workout, or look for shorter classes like Sprint, offered at Pure Fitness studios.
SOURCE JOURNAL OF FITNESS RESEARCH.
TEXT ESTELLE LOW PHOTOS 123RF.COM.