Workout of the Week: Core and Cardio

Some people prefer to stay in the weight room to work out, yet, others prefer cardio events like running, biking, or swimming in the great outdoors. Both approaches are great ways to get exercise, but you may be bored with “just going for a run.” Here is a fun compromise where you can focus on often neglected training exercises that work the full core (lower back, abdominal, obliques, hips, and upper back). Core work is not just working on your abs.

If you are dreading on doing your cardio day OR only do cardio and nothing else, add in this circuit for 10 minutes before and after your cardio event of the day. You could also use this “warmup” prior to weight room workouts as well.

Core / Cardio

Dynamic movements prior to exercise has become the gold standard of the warm up over the years. Major joint movements will help reduce stiffness prior to a run or heavy lifting workout. Dynamic stretching works by flexing one group of muscles to stretch the opposite group of muscles. Exercises like the butt-kickers, Frankenstein walks, Leg Swings, or Bounding all flex and stretch the front and back side of the leg while working movements in the knee, hip, and ankle joints. Learning several of these movements will be beneficial to how you feel during your cardio event – especially running. Check out this excellent dynamic warm up routine.

Core Work Plank pose 30 seconds Swimmers – 30 seconds Hip Rollers – 10 (5 each side) Donkey Kicks 10/leg Dirty Dogs 10/leg Bear Crawl – 25 yards Arm haulers – 10-20 Reverse pushups – 10-20 Birds – 10-20 Side Plank pose 1 min (each side 30 seconds) Side bends – 10/side Crunches – 10 Reverse crunches – 10 Left crunches – 10 Right crunches – 10

Or you can also add in Situps if you are still being tested in that exercise. For some more challenging hips / core exercises: Flutterkicks 25 Leg Levers – 25 Scissors – 25

Follow with a Light Leg Stretch and go do your thing! The added core focus will make a difference with your cardio workout days especially if these are something you typically neglect.

Cardio and Other Workout Ideas Running and Cardio / PT Workouts Non-impact Cardio Options

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I wrote this routine with our upcoming 8 Week Program for Busy People in mind; it’s fast and effective, and it has everything you need for a good workout, in under 30 minutes.

For the vast majority of the population, this is the perfect cardio workout to do when you are sore from a more intense workout. On the other hand, if you are new to exercise this is a great introductory, beginner friendly HIIT workout – we use the timing structure of high intensity interval training, but this routine lacks the explosive exercises that typically make up a HIIT routine. If you are familiar with our level 4 and 5 HIIT workout videos, you will find that this is an excellent recovery or steady state cardio workout for the days when you might have some sore muscles to consider, but you still want to burn off some extra calories to get a jump on your health or weight loss goals. How you use this routine exactly is going to be specific to your own fitness level and goals; listen to your body and that feedback to make this work for you.

Workout Structure
Warm up & cool down included
Overall Format: AABB Abs + AABB HIIT
Interval Format: 20 On, 10 off, x 2 for each group

Warm Up Cardio – 30 Seconds Each
– High Knee Pulls
– Walkdowns
– Tricep Push Up to Child’s Pose
– Down Dog to Up Dog
– Butt Kickers
– Up and Out Jacks

Printable Cardio and Abs Workout

Abs Exercise 1: Russian Twist
Abs Exercise 2: Crisscross Jackknife
Cardio Interval 1: Switchfoot Knee
Cardio Interval 2: Lizard Lunge

Water Break

Abs Exercise 1: Scissor Kicks
Abs Exercise 2: Flutter Kicks
Cardio Interval 1: Push Pulls
Cardio Interval 2: Jackknife Get Ups

Abs Exercise 1: High Plank Knees
Abs Exercise 2: Toe Touch Leg Drops
Cardio Interval 1: Stutter Jacks
Cardio Interval 2: Warrior Lunges

Cool Down & Stretch

Will this workout help me lose belly fat? How do I lose belly fat?
It’s impossible to spot reduce fat from any one area of the body, including the belly. Belly fat loss takes consistency with your workouts (which should include both various types of cardio and total body strength training) and a clean, healthy diet.

What kind of diet works best for belly fat loss? What does it mean to “eat clean”? Do I need supplements?
The best way to eat to lose belly fat is simple; keep it clean and as natural as possible. Avoid packaged, processed foods, and be especially leery of “health foods” – most of the foods marketed as healthy and natural are anything but – always, always read the ingredients lists on the foods that you eat. The safest way to work around this issue is to eat foods that don’t have ingredients; fruits and vegetables should be the biggest staple of your diet, as well as whole unaltered grains, legumes, nuts, and responsibly sourced animal products (if you include them in your diet at all). You should cook your own meals as often as possible, and it’s best to cook from scratch. Yes, it takes more effort and depending on where you live, it might be more expensive, but it is 100% worth it – we’re talking about your health and lifespan here! Make it a priority. Also – there are tons of different supplements out there that promise to help burn off belly fat, all of which we recommend avoiding completely.

Leave questions, feedback, and suggestions in the comments below – we’re always using your feedback to make a better FitnessBlender.com.

Focusing on This Set of Muscles Will Improve Every Cardio Workout You Do

Endurance, balance, and technique are all paramount when it comes to working out on cardio machines, but there’s one other thing that can completely change your workouts—and it doesn’t get targeted during sprints or peddling.

It’s your core strength. Core strength benefits all types of cardio workouts, from running to the elliptical to the stair climber.

To help explain, we tapped Aaptiv trainer and health and wellness coach Jaime McFaden. Read on to learn why your core is a large contributor to cardio, plus some strengthening moves you can tack on to any cardio routine.

Why Core Is Crucial

While a cut core is the goal of many gym goers and fitness lovers, these muscles aren’t purely for aesthetics. In fact, your core is your body’s entire support system—it’s involved in practically every movement you make. “Having a strong core is imperative to overall health and endurance. Your core is what keeps you stable and balanced,” McFaden says.

Aaptiv has core workouts that will help you sculpt the perfect stomach.

This extends to well outside the fitness space, as it affects your posture and likelihood to experience back pain and muscle injuries. The core muscles—rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, external obliques, and more—provide major support to your spine and pelvis. They even connect your upper and lower body, making it possible to transfer weight and forces. This affects a wide range of movements, from picking up a package to swinging a golf club to even sitting at your desk for long periods of time (seriously). In short, strong core muscles create a stable base for the rest of your body.

That stability, as you’d expect, plays heavily into cardio activities. “When you are running or performing cardio exercise, all of your movement radiates from the center of your body,” McFaden explains. Having strength in this area can noticeably improve your pace, stride, and speed and, more importantly, decrease your risk of pain and injury. Doing core workouts will train the muscles in your abdomen, lower back, pelvis, and hips to work together, therefore improving every other form of exercise you do.

You can tack on the following moves to any cardio routine, no equipment required. So drop to the floor, brace your core, and get ready to feel the burn.

Planks

“Planks are my favorite way to train the core,” McFaden tells us. “You can work deep within the muscles and strengthen from the inside out.” We’re not alone in our love for the move, which has been a classic for as long as fitness devotees can remember. Perhaps that’s because while it’s simple to execute, the plank targets all major core muscle groups at once. This includes your transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis, external obliques, and glutes—yes, they’re part of your core. Many plank variations exist (most don’t even need equipment), making it easy to customize and include them in a post-cardio core routine. McFaden recommends a minute of each of the following, but you can increase or decrease that time to match your fitness level.

Forearm Plank

One of the most common plank methods, this variation places your forearms, rather than your palms (as you’d see in a push-up), on the ground. In this case, the move focuses entirely on targeting your core and takes away the element of holding yourself up.

To perform, place your forearms on the ground, keeping your elbows in line with your shoulders. You can either clasp your hands together or keep your palms flat. Prop yourself up onto your toes so that your body forms a straight horizontal line. Make sure your back isn’t sloping downward or upward. Brace your core, and hold in place.

Side Plank

To target your obliques, transition swiftly into a side plank. From your forearm plank, lean onto the right side of your body. Your right forearm should be supporting your upper body, while your left foot stacks on top of your right foot. At this point, your body will form a diagonal line. Rest your left hand at your hip or upper leg (just make sure it isn’t moving around). Brace your core, and hold in place. After one minute, come back to a forearm plank and then transition into a left-side plank. Hold for the same amount of time.

Reverse Plank

As the name suggests, this plank variation is the reverse of the standard plank. Most often seen in yoga, it targets your core, glutes, hamstrings, and posterior muscles (those along your backside) simultaneously. It also aids in spinal stabilization.

To perform, begin by sitting on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Place your arms slightly behind you and outside the hips, fingers pointing toward your body. Pressing your hands into the ground, lift your hips, lower body, and upper body off the ground so that your body forms a diagonal line. Point your toes as you keep your arms and legs straight. Keep your gaze up toward the ceiling and your chin pointing comfortably upward. Imagine pulling your belly button into your spine, and squeeze your core. Hold for one minute.

Plank Jacks

Once you’ve mastered stationary plank variations, begin to include planks that involve moving. Doing so further tests and improves your core stability while likely working other large muscle groups throughout the body. The plank jack, for example, targets every bit of your core that a normal plank does, but it also raises your heart rate and works your leg muscles.

If you’ve never attempted plank jacks, start with the beginner version. Bring yourself into a plank—straight arms or forearms will work. From here, bring your left foot out to the side and then back to starting position. Next, bring your right foot out to the side and then back to starting position. Repeat this stepping motion. Once you’ve got that down, try a full plank jack. Instead of sidestepping, jump your legs out to both sides at the same time (like a jumping jack) and then jump them back together. Don’t sacrifice form for speed! Attempt 20 plank jacks to start, and then adjust that number according to your fitness level.

Mountain Climbers

Another core-targeting classic, the mountain climber also focuses on stability and getting your heart rate up. Not only does it hit your abs and glutes, but your upper body also gets a great workout while holding you up in position (multitaskers, rejoice).

To perform, bring yourself into a traditional plank with your arms straight and palms pressing into the ground. Make sure your shoulders are lined up over your hands. At this point, all your weight should be on your toes. Squeezing your core, bring your right knee in toward your chest, with your foot hovering just above the ground. Return to starting position. Then bring your left knee toward your chest, and return to start. Repeat by alternating sides. Quicken your pace so that it almost feels like you’re jogging in place (while in a plank, of course). Keep up the “jog” for one minute.

V-Ups

V-ups have long been a benchmark of core strength. The move, which consists of lifting your body into a V shape, requires you to support both your upper and lower body using only your core muscles. While planks are incredible when it comes to building strength in this area, V-ups test you further by having you lift other parts of your body. This improves your overall stability, core strength, and even your leg strength.

To perform, begin by lying on your back on the floor, with heels together and toes pointed. Keeping your legs straight, lift them off the ground as you raise your upper body off the ground. Brace your core as your hands reach for your toes. Hold the V position for ten counts before slowly lowering yourself back down to starting position. Repeat. Attempt 20 V-ups to start, and then adjust the number to your liking.

Looking for more variety? Aaptiv’s core workouts will give you the results you’re looking for. Check them out in the app today.

The Best Ab Workout For A Six-Pack

How do you train to get six-pack abs? You can do it with long and complicated training, like many people do, but in my book, the best ab workout is the one you’ll do over and over again.

Yes, it’s true that that abs are earned in the kitchen—not the gym. But if six-pack abs are your goal, it’s also important to pick the right ab workout for the job.

This workout is composed of seven abdominal exercises carefully chosen to work both the upper and lower ab muscles. Hit this workout hard three times a week, stick to a healthy diet that goes easy on the calories, do some lifting and the right amount of cardio, and you’ll soon see some serious six-pack progress.

Magnificent 7 Ab Circuit 3 rounds, resting as little as possible between movements. 1 15-20 reps or to failure+ 7 more exercises

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How to Do This Core Routine

This is a fairly advanced ab workout, so how you do it matters.

Beginners are better off performing just three out of the seven exercises for two sets each of as many reps as possible, with a minute of rest between sets. From there, build up your fitness and endurance by adding exercises and sets and cutting back on your rest periods.

A reasonable goal is to be able to do the seven exercises in a big circuit all at once, rest a minute or two, and repeat it two more times by the end of 12 weeks.

As you build up to that, feel free to break up the workout in different ways. For instance, I like to perform supersets like this:

  • Repeat 3 times:
  • Exercise 1 and 2, rest 30 sec.
  • Exercise 3 and 4, rest 30 sec.
  • Exercise 5 and 6, rest 30 sec.
  • Exercise 7, rest 60 sec.

Perform each set to momentary muscle failure, or until you can’t easily do another rep.

Note that I haven’t included any direct oblique work. In my experience, direct oblique work only leads to a wider waistline. Besides, obliques get enough stimulation from exercises like squats, deadlifts, and other full-body weight training.

When to Work Your Abs

For most people, performing this routine a minimum of three days per week will be plenty. An advanced bodybuilder could do it just about every day.

Personally, I like to head to the gym early and do abs and cardio first thing in the morning, then come back in the afternoon for weight training. That way, I get to spike up my metabolism twice a day.

If you’d rather do the workout in one session, I recommend either performing the ab routine as a warm-up for your weight training or after your training if you’re going to be doing heavy lifting like squats or deadlifts. Then perform your cardio last.

How to Make This Ab Routine Easier or Harder

If you can’t do an exercise, due to lower-back injuries for instance, feel free to substitute it with an exercise that doesn’t bother your back.

If, on the other hand, you have a healthy lower back and would like to add extra mass to your abs, do the workout three times a week and use some resistance in the exercises, such as holding a small plate or dumbbell.

How to Perform the Exercises

Exercise 1: Sit-up

Primary Target: Upper Abs

  1. Lie flat on your back on the floor with your knees bent and your legs secured under a piece of heavy furniture or bench.
  2. Place your hands by your chest.
  3. Flexing your abdominals, raise your torso until you are in nearly a sitting position.
  4. Retaining tension on the abs, lower your torso to the beginning position. (Note: Maintain full control throughout the movement. Avoid the temptation to rock back and forth.)

Exercise 2: Leg raise

Primary Target: Lower Abs

  1. Lie flat on your back on the floor with your legs straight in front of you.
  2. Place your hands at your sides by the floor for support.
  3. Flexing your lower abdominals, raise your legs until they are perpendicular to the floor.
  4. Retain tension as you lower your legs to the beginning position. (Note: Maintain full control throughout the movement. Avoid the temptation to let your legs drop on the negative portion of the movement.)

Exercise 3: Jackknife sit-up

Primary Target: Upper and Lower Abs

  1. Lie flat on your back on the floor with your legs straight in front of you.
  2. Place your hands at your sides by the floor for support.
  3. Flexing your lower abdominals, raise your legs until they are perpendicular to the floor.
  4. At this time, raise your shoulders and torso as far as possible from the ground in a curling movement without raising your back from the floor.
  5. Maintaim tension as you lower your legs to the beginning position, then bring your torso to the starting position as well. (Note: Maintain full control throughout the movement. Avoid the temptation to rock back and forth.)

Exercise 4: Knee-in

Primary Target: Lower Abs

  1. Sit on the floor (or on the edge of a chair or exercise bench) with your legs extended in front of you and your hands holding on to the sides for support.
  2. Keep your knees together and pull them in toward your chest until you can’t go any farther.
  3. Keeping the tension on your lower abs, return to the start position and repeat the movement until you’ve completed your set.

Exercise 5: Toe-Toucher

Primary Target: Upper and Lower Abs

  1. Lie on the floor with your legs touching and extended in front of you, and your hands by your side.
  2. Lift your legs up as high as possible while at the same time bringing your torso toward them and reaching your hands toward your toes.
  3. Return to the start position and repeat the movement until you have completed your set.

Exercise 6: Crunch

Primary Target: Upper Abs

  1. Lie flat on your back on the floor with your legs bent at the knees.
  2. Place your hands by your chest.
  3. Raise your shoulders and torso as far as possible from the ground in a curling movement without raising your lower back from the floor.
  4. Retaining tension on the abs, bring your torso to the starting position. (Note: Maintain full control throughout the movement. Avoid the temptation to rock back and forth.)

Exercise 7: Reverse Crunch

Primary Target: Upper and Lower Abs

  1. Lie flat on your back on the floor with your legs straight in front of you.
  2. Place your hands palms down at your sides for support.
  3. Slowly bend your legs at the knees and bring them toward your chest.
  4. Once your knees are by your chest, raise your shoulders and torso as far as possible from the ground in a curling movement without raising your back from the floor.
  5. Return your legs to the starting position and bring your torso back to the floor.

This is just one of the many great ab workouts you’ll find at Bodybuilding.com. Keep exploring to find the right ones for you!

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Cardio and core workout

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