The Most Underrated Ab Exercise

PLANKS.

It may not look like much, but the Plank can’t be beat for building a strong core from the inside out.

MASTER THE PLANK

It’s essential to master the basic front plank before moving on to more advanced variations, because it teaches the foundational cues that make all planking movements effective. And when done consistently and correctly, it will—not can, will—confer mega strength benefits.

Start off by getting into a basic plank position: propped on your forearms, elbows in line with your shoulders, legs shoulder-width apart, and your toes planted firmly.

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The most important element of a good plank is a neutral spine or “flat” back. The most common problem I see in planks is a sinking low back, but the second-most common problem is an arched back with the hips in the air. To keep a neutral spine, imagine pulling your belly button back towards your spine.

Another element of a good plank is proper shoulder position. Be careful not to shrug the shoulders up toward your ears. The final element is head position. Do your best to keep your head neutral, like it is when you stand straight and stare forward. Resist the urge to crane your neck up or let your head droop down towards the floor.

If you do it right, your body should form a straight line from your head to your ankles. If this isn’t easy, good. Planks are not supposed to be easy. 🙂

Once you’ve mastered the basic plank, you can move onto some fun variations!

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LIKE A BIRD

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In Honor of Glute Day, here’s one of my favorite stretches- Pigeon Pose.

This yoga pose opens up your hips by stretching the hip rotators (booty area) AND hip flexors (the long muscles that run along the front of your thighs & pelvis). I try to do this stretch before every workout because my hips are often tight. I’m talking everyday tight.

So, what causes tight hips?

First, modern life requires sitting all day, which keeps your hips from the rotation, flexion, and extension they need to remain agile. Second, common sports such as running and cycling—and even an everyday activity like walking—demand hip strength but not flexibility. The third culprit is stress, which creates tension in your body, especially in your hip area, which is a complex cluster of powerful muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Even a little bit of stress-induced clenching can really lock them up.

So, short of tossing out your chair and entirely eliminating stress from your life, what can you do to unstick your hips and get them gliding freely again? For starters, you can start to incorporate Pigeon Pose into your daily routine.

Try it out! 🙂 Use the basic photo below for guidance.

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WE HAVE A NEW LOOK!

Primadonna Fitness has a NEW LOOK!

Hello everyone & Happy 2015!

I apologize for the break in posts. I have had trouble choosing a host domain for our website. Primadonna Fitness was originally through GoDaddy, but I have personally decided to change servers due to recent campaigns within their company.

Instead of PrimadonnaFitness.com our primary domain will be Primadonnafi.com (simple enough, right?)

It is a NEW YEAR & I have TONS of plans on the table for Primadonna Fitness.

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM PRIMADONNA FITNESS IN 2015:

  • DAILY Heath & Fitness Posts
  • Seasonal Workout Challenges
  • A Fitwear Line- Flex Appeal Apparel
  • In-Gym Seminars
  • Youtube Channel to Show Exercises & Proper Form
  • Personal Training Testimonials

I’m so excited to be back with you all! Let’s show 2015 who’s boss! 🙂

XO,

Jill LaMancuso

Primadonna Fitness Founder

 

PLANK IT OUT: The Best Core Exercise

Abdominal crunches do not flatten your mid-section. Knowing this has probably just freed up 10-minutes of your workout time. PLANK IT OUT for those 10-minutes and strengthen your core while working multiple muscle groups at once!

Abdominal crunches activate the well-known rectus abdominis muscle, also known as the six-pack (if its definition is visible through the overlying body fat and skin). You can work this muscle to absolute fatigue but nothing is going to happen to the body fat that is layered on top of it (I like to refer to this as the ‘blanket’). Your body can’t take that ‘blanket’ and transform it into more six-pack muscle, nor does it use this ‘blanket’ as fat for fuel for the exercise. Spot reduction is probably the most famous fitness myth, yet we cling to it with great optimism. For some reason, we hope that if we keep trying to spot reduce, or keep doing those 100-crunches a day, it may eventually work. It won’t, so change your focus. Cut the boring crunches out of your workout and expend your energy elsewhere.

FIRST & FOREMOST- DO YOUR CARDIO. Aerobic exercise elevates and maintains your heart-rate in an effective target zone over a period of time (calculate your fat burn zone by first finding your max heart rate *220-your age* then multiple this number by 60%-70% *max HR x .6-.7* The resulting number is what your heart rate should be within to burn body fat). After about 20-30 minutes (every body is different) your body switches from using carbohydrates to fat as fuel, since fat is a better fuel source. Now you are in your fat-burning zone for the rest of your aerobic workout. Burning body fat will allow you to see more muscle mass, and will remove some of the stubborn ‘blanket’.

SECONDLY, STRENGTHEN YOUR CORE. The muscles of your core are deeper and more important than just the rectus abdominis. Your core is your foundation of strength. These muscles connect the upper and lower body, and, like a chain, you are only as strong as your weakest link. Core muscles keep your spine and pelvis in proper alignment while you work and play, providing stamina and preventing injury so you can work and play harder.

If you’re still attached to the idea of spot reduction, know that core strength can affect the appearance of your waistline. Strong muscles in your core, as well as other key upper and lower body muscles, enable better posture when standing and sitting, giving the illusion of a trimmer tummy. Strengthening your core also ignites your ‘inner corset’ pulling you into a beautiful hourglass figure!

As a Personal Trainer, I personally believe that PLANKS ARE HIGHLY UNDERRATED.   Any backlash or boredom regarding planks is probably the result of doing them incorrectly. A lot of people think it’s an easy exercise, so they don’t keep their pelvis in a neutral position (it’s either too high or too low). They also don’t keep their shoulders aligned and retracted, allowing the shoulder blades to wing up, and don’t fully engage the transverse abdominus and glutes at the same time. So how do you know if you’re doing them wrong? If you’re feeling the burn in your lower back and arms and not through your core, glutes, and quads.

PLANK IT OUT PROPERLY (Now that’s a mouthful!):

  • Assume the plank, or “pre push-up” position.
  • Make sure your hands are placed shoulder-width apart and in line with your shoulders.
  • Make sure your feet are hip-width apart.
  • Make sure your spine is in a neutral position (no peaks or pikes with your booty!)
  • Make sure you are contracting your core, your glutes, and your quads.
  • Always keep your neck/head neutral (think of keeping your spine in a straight line)

The FUN thing about planks is that there are so many VARIATIONS and so many different positions you can do to isolate different muscles! But I think that deserves it’s own post!

PLANK IT OUT, you won’t be disappointed with the results… I promise!

😉

Xo,

PF

 

 

 

Strength Training: Why Being Afraid of “Bulking” is No Longer an Excuse

The problem with most women is that we hear the term “weightlifting” and we have a mini heart attack because we don’t want to end up looking like a pumped up she-Hulk.

Well your fear of “bulking” excuse is no longer valid. 🙂

At least with me.

Women can’t achieve that “bulky” look. You know why? Because we simply do not have enough testosterone to create such a physique. Men have higher levels of testosterone than females and that is why they can pack on muscle easier than women can. Even women who want to bulk can’t do so without the use of steroids, excessive supplementation, excessive calorie consumption, and hours upon hours a day of heavy lifting.

With the proper nutrition and cardio training… adding weight lifting to your routine has the potential to truly remodel your figure.

See, in order to change your body. I mean, really change your shape… you must lift weights. Cardio will only make you a smaller version of yourself. If you want to shape, tighten, tone, and achieve that “hourglass” figure… you must pick up some weights!

The benefits of weight training are endless. Some benefits include increased resting metabolism (meaning you burn more fat while at rest!) improved mood, optimization of hormones, and the ability to essentially “mold” your body into the shape that you desire.

Strength training will not only change your body, it will change your life.

I spent years of my life on cardio equipment. No, really, I have. I used to do strictly cardio 6 times a week for at least 1 hour. I lost weight, heck yeah I lost weight, because my body was burning way more calories than I was consuming. However, I also lost essential muscle tissue. Sure, I was smaller than I used to be, but I was not toned or shapely. I refer to myself at this phase of my life as “skinny fat” and hey, it happens to a lot of us. But the more educated we become, the more we can do to help ourselves in the future.

I only began seeing changes in my body shape when I stepped off the treadmill and stepped into the weight room. Although I have not yet met my personal fitness goals, I am proud of the hourglass shape I have molded into by lifting weights. Stay tuned for an upcoming post featuring the Hourglass Workout! Summer is just around the corner ladies! 🙂

XOXO,

Primadonna Fitness

 

 

Just A Girl Who Decided To Go For It

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The picture on the left was taken before I began carb-cycling and HIIT training. I was still lifting weights and doing cardio, but my diet wasn’t on track and I wasn’t getting the most out of my training sessions.

The picture on the right was taken after about 6 weeks of carb-cycling and HIIT training. Believe it or not, I was spending LESS time in the gym! This picture is solid proof that diet and training style can have mega effects on your progress.

 

(I was hesitant about sharing this picture with anyone, yet alone, sharing it on the internet for the world to see. I’m not one to boast and brag about myself, and truthfully, I’ve been self-conscious my whole life.

But this picture made me proud.

I was scared of what people would think, what people would say, what people would say to other people about what they think (silly, isn’t it?)

But this picture made me proud.

So I went for it. I’m not ashamed of my story. I’m not here to portray perfection. I’m here to destroy stereotypes assigned to females. The stereotypes that hold us back. We can be strong. We can be bold. We can succeed. So don’t let the opinions of others consume you, and do not be ashamed of your story- it will inspire others.)

XOXO-

Primadonna Fitness

 

Rosie The Riveter: Still On The Job At 93

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Do you recognize this woman?

She’s Rosie the Riveter. You know, the name of the popular song that celebrated the strong woman that supported the war effort by filling tens of thousands of jobs that were left behind by men to fight overseas? Yeah. She’s real.

Elinor Otto, 93, was one of the original Rosie the Riveter girls. Otto wakes up at 4-o-clock in the morning and drives to the Boeing plant in Long Beach, California. She’s not there to deliver cookies, she’s there to work! Otto’s job consists of inserting rivets into the wing sections of C-17 cargo planes. Talk about strength.

In fact, Otto has worked at numerous aircraft assembly plants, but it all started with Rosie the Riveter girls in 1942. “We were part of this big thing,” Otto explained. “We hoped we’d win the war. We worked hard as women, and were proud to have that job.”

Her job paid a mere 65 cents an hour. That’s 39 dollars less than what she makes now. But she enjoyed the work, the routine, the camaraderie, and the visits to the dance hall on the weekends to kick back with her friends from the plant.

With the end of the war, so came the end of the Rosie the Riveters. “Within days we were gone,” states Otto.

Otto tried other fields of work, but office jobs never appealed to her. She worked as a carhop for a short while, but left when they told her she had to perform the job on roller skates. Luckily, SoCal’s aircraft industry came out of the war booming. Otto was an “ace” with the rivet gun, which earned her a spot on the line doing the job she loved- riveting.

She buried her mother, went through a couple marriages, had a son, had a grandson, but happily took her spot on the assembly line month after month, year after year, decade after decade.

Otto explains, “I’m a working person, I guess. I like to work. I like to be around people that work. I like to get up, get out of the house, and get something accomplished each day.”

And, oh boy, what she has accomplished. The list is long. Her most important accomplishment, however, is serving as an inspiration.

“When I think to myself, ‘Why am I slowing up? Why am I home?’ I think that, ‘Elinor is at work and Elinor is 93!'” Her boss, Don Pitcher, explained.

But she isn’t just an inspiration to her boss, her co-workers adore her, and Long Beach honored her with a Rosie the Riveter Park this month.

More importantly, and the reason why I am sharing this story with you on my blog, Elinor Otto serves as a strong inspiration to all women out there. The Woman’s Empowerment Movement has come a long way, and she’s been there through it. She plowed through traditional gender roles and followed her passion, despite what others had to say.

How long will she work? Her answer was simple– As long as she can. Most likely, until sometime next year when her Boeing plant finishes off their last and final contract for those C-17 cargo planes.

“I’ll be the one that closes that door,” Otto said. “I’ll be the last one there.”

Now that’s leaving with a bang. A bang that only a strong woman could deliver.

(Information from NBC News sources)

XOXO,

Primadonna Fitness