Post # 1
So, in an attempt to tone up for imminent holidays I am a couple of days into the 30-day squat challenge, and am going for an abs one as well.
Now, I realise there are a million tutorials out there about doing both squats and crunches, yet I still feel I must be doing something wrong..
Squat-wise, I need to target glutes and hamstrings (my quads are already over-developed for my liking, lol). Apparently, a wider-stance squat should achieve this, but so far I don’t feel like those muscles have been hit. There’s soreness, but really just in the upper inner thigh area.
Crunch-wise: I have suffered a bit with my lower back in the past, so have tried to follow ‘recommended’ crunch techniques accordingly – and all I’m getting is neck-ache, argh!
Any pointers greatly welcomed
Post # 3
your neck shouldn’t be sore from crunches unless you are pulling on your neck with your hand too hard. try crossing your arms in from of your chest or put them in the pilates 100 position.
as for squats, you should be pressing up with the entire bottom of your feet. you should feel it in your hamstrings if you are doing it correctly. try the dead man’s row to target hamstrings.
Post # 4
I found doing the squats on a bosu holding weights really amped things up.
Post # 5
Try doing plank instead of crunches. Crunches put too much pressure on the annulus fibres that hold your intervertebral disc in place and can cause lower back pain (Exercise Physiologist/Physiotherapy Assistant here). I always advise people to choose stability and core exercises that don’t require stress on their spine and plank can be very good for that. There are different variations (on your elbows, on hands, on knees), and instead of working up to a certain number of repititions, you can work up to holding the posture for longer. With plank, more pain is not necessarily better, if you start to feel an achy pain in your lower back (usually about 1 minute in or so), it’s better to stop. This should also stop that neck ache.
Post # 6
@whybee: Crunches are not the most effective ab workout. I agree with the PP who suggested planks. You can do them with your forearms on the ground, or with palms flat and your arms straight. If you do them with your forearms on the ground, just be sure to not interlock your hands. Do your planks in front of a mirror so you can ensure your back/butt are flat. As my trainer says “it’s called a plank, not a pyramid!” Aim to start out at 30 seconds, and work up to a minute or 2. You can also do side planks, but remember to lift your hips up and don’t let your body sag.
Squats are awesome! Body weight squats are ok for beginners, but I would amp it up by adding some weight to your shoulders, or adding in some jump squats, or squats with a leg raise. As in, do your squat, then come up to the start position, and then alternate lifting your leg back, heel reaching up and back (targeting the glutes).
If you can get to a gym, I’d suggest grabbing a bar and doing deadlifts. They are one of the single MOST effective moves you can do for your entire body.
One of my favorite workout websites is FitSugar. They have a ton of options for routines you can do at home and in the gym.
Post # 7
@ajillity81 That’s the thing, I am not pulling on my neck with my hands -have had them crossed over my chest! So I am obviously doing some completely weird involuntary neck straining thing. Have tried switching between normal crunches and ‘reverse crunches’ (body stays flat but you move your legs up and down?) which has helped… And squats – I am pushing with the entire bottom of my feet! Maybe my body is put together all wrong, lol! Need to look into this ‘dead man’s row’ thing, I haven’t heard of it before! Thanks for the advice though
@mrs_narwhal @BlondeBee – are planks good for firming/toning as well as building core strength? Sorry, that’s probably a dumb question… Have not been very good at these in the past!
Can’t really get to a gym but thanks ladies for your comments!
(Also is there an easier way of ‘tagging’ people than having to scroll up and copy/paste usernames?!)
Post # 8
@whybee: try walking lunges instead of squats. Your back knee needs to touch the ground for full range of motion.
Post # 9
@whybee: I would REALLY do some free-weight squats if I were you. Bodyweight squats will only do so much with regards to ‘toning’. By doing free weight barbell squats you will be increasing the resistance load much more, which will increase the muscle you have in those areas whilst helping burn fat in them too (to simplify the process immensely!). Get someone to teach you good technique and form (it is a very technical exercise that many people do not do properly) and you will really reap the rewards! Walking lunges are another good exercise (with dumbbells) and deadlifts, but you really need someone to teach you how to do it properly for the deadlift otherwise you risk injury!
With regards to crunches, do not go ALL the way up. Crunches from the floor should involve small movements, depending on the area of the abs you want to work. Try some twisted crunches as well to work the obliques, and some weighted side bends if you have access to dumbbells/kettlebells.
Post # 10
@OrchidsandCandles: Nice to hear a female recommending barbell squats.
I would also suggest doing low bar squats vs. high bar squats if you are trying to target your glutes and hamstrings. About a month I started squatting my fiancee started commenting on my booty and how, um, I finally have one, so if that’s something you’re concerned about, do a little research. The deadlift is another great suggestion for the hamstrings. The side benefit of these lifts is that you are working your abs very hard isometrically stablizing the weight. (Heavy squats will hit your abs harder than however many minutes of plank position that graphic someone saw on Facebook suggested.)
This is stuff the average globo gym trainer will not want to teach you because most women are afraid of “getting bulky” (and because the trainer probably doesn’t even know how to squat properly), but trust me, as a guy who has tried to “get bulky”, it takes a lot more than just lifting weights for a few months.
Post # 11
@whybee: I have been doing a mix of upper body, lower body, and ab workouts for over a year now wnd thought I would share my tips/psonal experience. Also, my Future Father-In-Law is a personal trainer and had recommended these tips for me for targeting my legs:
1) In terms of your neck, my bet is you are doing too many crunches. Your overworking the muscles, when they grt tired other muslces try to take over.. In this case, your neck. Ive done this SO many times trying to keep up with my fiance. If I do 100, im good… At 120ish I am so exhausted I start straining and using alternate muscles. Build up to the point where you can do plenty, if you dont frel exhausted then my only other theories are that you are either not squeezing your core as you pull up, or have really weak neck muscles. I doubt its your neck though.
2) I have really really… Really strong legs. I have two problem areas and because the rest of my leg muscles are so strng I have a hard time working the weaker ones out. What I do is squats with my knees shoulder length apart, 5lb weights in each hand, slowly lower keeping your legs teady (they will try to shake), and when I get to standing position I push the weights up above my head and then back down and down into a squat. The other thing I can recommend is laying on your side with the leg closest to the ground laying flat at a 90 degree angle. keeping your other leg (the top one) straight out, lifting it to about a 45 degree angle and then slowly moving it back to the grohnd, never letting it touch. Repeat the reps as many times as you can. If youre doing it right, you wont be able to do more than 25 without seriously hurting, this targets inner thigs, the back of your legs, and your glutes. 🙂
Hope I helped!
Post # 12
@Excited To Bee:
Thank you all for your comments – I have now have information overload and need to process the various suggestions! The good thing about these 30-day challenges was that I have been able to simply print out a plan and tick off the days as I do them… Now I’ve got to work out a whole new plan, argh! And need to buy some weights?! I used to do BodyPump, which was awesome, but only the most expensive gyms offer it round here… 🙁
Post # 13
@whybee: Just look up a program like Stronglifts 5×5, they have all the compound lifts which will work your whole body. Used weight sets from Ebay or whatnot are really not expensive for the most part. Get a power rack, 2 olympic sized barbells, some plates, set of cheap dumbbells (or even an adjustable one if you can get it) and you’re good to go! Just make sure to eat enough nutrient dense food in order to do this (especially protein!), otherwise you will stall and really struggle. A good rule of thumb is 1g of protein for every lb of body weight. Or 1.2g-2.2g of protein for every kg of body weight.
I changed my schedule recently but this is the kind of thing I do:
Monday: Barbell squats and overhead press, abs
Tuesday: weights rest day/Krav maga
Wednesday: Pendlay rows/accessory stuff (dumbbell bench and shoulder press, curls, tricep cable pulldowns, abs). This day is the ‘easy’ stuff because krav maga usually messes my back up, and I found I was struggling with doing squats/deadlifts the day after, so left the easy stuff for this day. I do dumbbell stuff because it helps hit those stabiliser muscles which really really help with your major compound lifts (such as bench press). OHP is really good for this too, but it is my weakest lift as of now so doing stuff on the side is really helpful for this. I do bicep and tricep curls because I really really want that nice definition between the delts and the biceps you get from doing exercise!
Thursday: Rest day
Friday: Deadlifts (my favourite!!) and barbell bench press, maybe abs if I don’t feel too drained.
Weekend I take the days off (deadlifts are a very demanding exercise, so recovery is ESSENTIAL). Normally Fiance and I will go for a nice walk somewhere or something equally relaxing. If you don’t allow your body to recover from weights, you really will struggle and will not progress (something I learnt a while back!)
You will definitely not ‘bulk up’ from lifting heavy. We simply lack the hormones to do so. The women who are bodybuilders have to take a huge cocktail of steroids and other things, one of them being testosterone.
What I personally have found about weights is that it’s fun, intense, and incredibly demanding. Plus seeing the results (both aesthetically AND progress with your lifts) is so gratifying it’s awesome!
Post # 14
If you decide to go the barbell route, I would also suggest looking at Starting Strength. Stronglifts is a very similar program to SS. If you want to do this and get a trainer, make sure you get someone who focuses on the barbell lifts. Most globo gym trainers don’t know what they’re talking about in terms of the barbell lifts.
I’ll make one final point which is that while I personally think a barbell program is the best way to get strong fast, and that being strong improves almost every aspect of your day-to-day life (moreso than being able to run 26.2 miles or do 1000 crunches), the most important aspect of any fitness program is that it’s something you will do on a consistent basis.
Post # 15
@whybee: I would really suggest the Ab Mat for crunches. I use it and it’s a lifesaver! You can use it to target your oblique’s, abs and lower back muscles. You can get it online with the training DVD for $35 with free shipping. Any questions let me know!
Post # 16
@whybee: I can relate! I can’t seem to do anything for my butt because my quads do all the work. I’ve tried every which way of squatting and never feel a thing in my glutes. It drives me nuts because I have a flat butt and I’d really like to try and pop it out a little!