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picture_3 March 5, 2008

Every movement we make originates from our core. Everything you do, every move you make, starts and stops in your core. Knowing that means knowing it’s important. With any popular training concept comes misconceptions and confusion among the public. People also tend to neglect muscles they can’t see. That being said, how do we train our core? How do we improve our core strength? How do we improve stability and balance? Does making your core stronger really improve how you look, feel and move? Last month we discussed the theory of core training. Now we’ll take that knowledge and apply it to your training.

March 5, 2008
By Brad Lawrence

Topics
picture_6 FitSmart is a Fire Fighting in Canada online exclusive column by Brad Lawrence, a firefirefighter and personal trainer in Leduc, Alta.  Brad can be reached at BLawrence@leduc.ca


FITNESS
Core training – Part 2
March 5, 2008

Every movement we make originates from our core. Everything you do, every move you make, starts and stops in your core. Knowing that means knowing it’s important.

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With any popular training concept comes misconceptions and confusion among the public. People also tend to neglect muscles they can’t see. That being said, how do we train our core? How do we improve our core strength? How do we improve stability and balance? Does making your core stronger really improve how you look, feel and move?

Last month we discussed the theory of core training. Now we’ll take that knowledge and apply it to your training. Doing the proper exercises will be important to your progress. Knowing why you’re doing those exercises is even more important.

Let’s take a look at which muscles you’re working and what those muscles are doing for you. Here are six to focus on for any basic core training routine.

1. Rectus abdominis (six-pack muscle grouping) – These are your abs, and here’s news: almost everyone trains them wrong. Does someone you know have rock hard upper abs and nothing on the lower half? The standard crunch and all 500 of its variations do NOT target your lower abs. Training for your rectus needs to be divided into upper and lower segments. Lower abs should always be trained before upper abs. They are harder to isolate and will need support from your upper abs to isolate them properly.

2. Transverse abdominis (TVA) – The deepest of your core muscles, and the hardest to train. Think of this muscle as a corset around your waist, holding everything tightly inline. When functioning properly this muscle acts like a weight belt around your abdomen providing protection to your spine. This may be the most important muscle in your core.

3. External oblique – These muscles run around the side and front of your abdomen and help to transfer power from side to side.

4. Internal oblique – These muscles are underneath the external oblique and run in the opposite direction. Working your oblique muscles will also incorporate other parts of your core. That’s why you can isolate others first and then move to oblique work.

5. Erector spinae – This is a collection of three muscles that run down your spine to your lower back and provide stability over your spine. Whenever you’re working your abs, you’re also working your back. No exceptions.

6. Quadratus lumborum – These muscles are just above your glutes on either side of your spine. They provide support to the entire lumbar region of your spine. Back pain is common here, and is usually a result of a weakness or imbalance in these muscles. Train these muscles equally and regularly to achieve better core performance. Enjoy!

NUTRITION
Choosing a protein powder
March 5, 2008

The basics: Not long ago, you’d have been hard pressed to find a nutritional supplements store let alone a large supplements aisle in every grocery store. The supplement industry has exploded in the last 10 years, mainly due to the popularity of the flagship product of most supplement companies – protein powder.

Let’s look at the reasons for whey protein in your diet and how to choose the proper protein. Whey has too many benefits to list. They include everything from increasing muscle mass, promoting fat loss, boosting immune function and fighting free radicals to antibody production. Side effects: None

How to choose a product
Type: Whey protein isolate is the number one type of protein on the market. It is the purest, leanest protein available. Whey protein has the highest biological value of any food. As a rule, the higher the whey isolate count the better quality the product. That also makes it more expensive. Whey protein concentrate is a cheaper protein with less protein percentage, and a much lower biological value. Most protein powders are a blend of the two, which is acceptable for almost everyone. If you’d like the best, however, you’re going to want whey isolate, as pure as possible.

Protein percentage
Higher is better. Protein percentage is the percentage of the powder that is actually protein. This is important because you’re trying to buy a protein powder. You’re not trying to buy a protein mixed with a bunch of filler. Check the label; if each scoop is 30 grams, how much of that is actually protein?

Filler
Generally, you want to avoid filler in your powder. Watch for things like sugar, carbohydrates and high fat content. However, some higher-quality brands will often put amino acids or vitamins and minerals in their blend as well.

Value
As with anything you buy, you’re going to want the best product for the dollar. That’s going to take some shopping on your part. Keep in mind that all brands have different flavoring systems and you may not like all of them. Whey protein has become a staple in the fitness industry and unlike crash workouts and diets, its here to stay.

Make your own custom powder
If you’re interesting in designing your own brand of protein powder, www.trueprotein.com/ builds a powder for you. You choose the protein, the fat, the carbs, the vitamins, the flavor and everything else in the mix and it’s no more expensive than most store-bought products. If you decide to try it, let me know. I contacted True Protein and the company agreed to offer us a discount for our entire department, which I can provide for you.


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