The bicycle twist is a core move for the morning

Clients often tell me about their morning sequence to start their days, and I’m always proud that they take care of themselves. A morning core program can help maintain low back health, improve neuromuscular control, spinal stability, movement pattern efficiency, and injury prevention. But any ab or core exercise you choose needs to be effective, and not potentially lead to lower back pain.

A morning program is ideal for two reasons. First it’s typically the time in which your body is stiff, cold and most prone to injury. Having a routine prior to your busy day is like doing a pre-workout warm-up: It helps to increase soft-tissue blood-flow, warmth and pliability, facilitates neurological awareness and helps develop a psychological readiness for the day ahead. Second, a morning routine gives us another chance to make our habits stick, and if you miss doing it, you have another opportunity to do it later in the day.

The Bicycle Twist is a big external oblique winner.  

If you need a little help in choosing where to start, add Bicycle Twist to your routine, one of the best core exercises. Compared to a crunch, electromyography ( EMG ) shows that this exercise is 9 % more effective at targeting the rectus abdominis and 310 % more effective at targeting the external obliques.

It’s an ab exercise that many people know, also known in Pilates as Criss-Cross, and a go-to in yoga class.

Let’s include a brief anatomical overview of the ab muscles that this exercise targets. Four abdominal muscles hold the contents of the abdomen in place; the rectus abdominis, aka “six-pack”, which stabilize the pelvis and rib cage with respect to each other, transverse abdonimis, a deeper muscle that maintains intra-abdominal pressure, and is not involved in movements of the trunk, and the external and internal obliques that work together to help decelerate the spine as it arches backwards, rotates, and side bends. The external and internal obliques store potential energy, as in a follow-through in a golf swing.

The Most Common Mistake 

The Bicycle Twist targets the abs, yet most people do it wrong, and use the hip flexors. Stop using your hip flexors! They are typically stronger than the abs in trunk flexing movements; hip flexors bring the legs and trunk toward each other. Beyond 30 degrees, in the Bicycle Twist, crunches, or sit-ups, the powerful hip flexors begin to take charge of the movement. In real life, they are more likely to be strong, as you use them to create energy to help swing your leg forward in walking and running.  

Pilates mat exercise studies using EMG found that the hip flexors in Criss- Cross work at an intensity of 41 %. In other words, when you bring your knee towards your torso, the Criss-Cross, or Bicycle Twist becomes an ineffective exercise for the abdominals. The goal of ab training is to maximize the involvement of the abdominals, and minimize the hip flexors. 

Getting it right 

Keep your knees at 90 degrees, instead of flexing the hip to pull your knee in toward your elbow. This will give the back extra support and help target the obliques. 

Connie Aronson is an ACSM Exercise Physiologist and Corrective Exercise Specialist (TBBM-CES )  Visit her at www.conniearonson.com and  Instagram@conniearon

https://www.mtexpress.com/wood_river_journal/features/fitness-guru/article_a62eb6d4-61a6-11eb-bcfb-3f5fb75e1f4c.html

Beat the heat with hydration

    Water is essential for life, as it makes up 60 percent of the average person’s bodyweight. Before we go on and talk about the importance of hydration in the summer, and how to monitor your hydration status, go ahead and grab a big glass of water, because if you’re like me, always forgetting to bring my water bottle to work, you might be dehydrated.

    Looking at urine color is the quickest way to monitor hydration. Clear to light yellow color indicates adequate hydration, while darker colors, as in the doc’s hued color charts, indicates dehydration. Keep in mind that certain vitamins and supplements can make the color of urine not representative of hydration level. For example, high doses of vitamin B can cause neon yellow pee, or vitamin C or riboflavin that contain carotene can cause yellow to orange colors.

 This year’s three-week race had many days over 86 degrees, and starting and ending the day hydrated was key. With all the time spent outside this summer, it is important to do the same. You want to have adequate hydration throughout the day—make it a habit throughout the day and not just before or after exercise.

    On any given hot day, the heat and dry conditions contribute to the water our bodies lose and needs to be replaced. A common recommendation regarding how much water you should drink is eight eight-ounce cups a day. That’s easy to remember, and a reasonable goal, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, everyone is different, and the actual amount of water needed depends on a number of factors, such as heat and humidity, and individual differences, including sweat rate, body mass and exercise intensity and duration.

    Signs of dehydration are:

  • Dry mouth
  • Tiredness
  • Thirst
  • Decreased urine output
  • Dizziness or feeling lightheaded
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Dry skin
  • Urine darker than normal

    Make it a habit to carry a bottle of water with you. If you have a water bottle labeled with volume measurements, put rubber bands around the bottom of it. Every time you finish a bottle, slide the rubber band to the top to help remind you to drink throughout the day. Remember also that all foods have some water in them, especially summer fruit and vegetables. What a good way to stay healthy and hydrated!

Printed in the Idaho Mountain Express August 3, 2018 https://www.mtexpress.com/wood_river_journal/features/fitness-guru/article_0c8ba828-9685-11e8-88e5-63d01c110e57.html