Are you sick of doing a zillion crunches and not seeing results? Does your lower back hurt after an ab workout? Why not try these two simple exercises that will flatten your belly, strengthen your abs and back, and make you look gooooood!
Prone Iso-AbsExercise Type:
Core Stabilization Exercise Target Muscles:
Obliques (internal and external)
Prone Iso-Abs on KneesProgression:
Prone Iso-Abs with one leg raisedStarting Position:
Lie on the floor with your elbows on the floor. Place your feet together with your knees and toes on the floor. Movement:
Draw abs in and squeeze your glutes. Raise your knees off the ground so that only your elbows and toes are touching the ground.
Hold for 30 seconds up to 2 minutes. Email me
about other variations.
Side PlankExercise Type:
Core Stabilization Exercise Target Muscles:
Obliques (internal and external)
Side Plank on lower knee, forearm on groundProgression:
Side Plank with one leg raisedStarting Position:
Lie on your side and shift onto the outside edge of your left foot, and stack your right foot on top of the left. Now swing your right hand onto your right hip, turn your torso to the right as you do, and support the weight of your body on the outer left foot and left hand. Movement:
Position the supporting hand slightly in front of its shoulder, so the supporting arm is angled a bit relative to the floor. Straighten the arm by firming the triceps muscle, and press the base of the index finger firmly against the floor. Squeeze your core and glutes and keep your hip thrusting toward the sky.
Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on other side. Email me
about other variations.
This past weekend I went to City Sports with my wife so she could try on a pair of Vibram Five Fingers
. She first tried to try on a pair last year at the Boston Marathon expo, but her toes weren't able to fit in the pockets, so she never got to experience walking around in them. I had high hoped they'd fit her this time around, but once again her pinky toes and some other toes just wouldn't slide into the correct places. I'm not sure when she'd wear these shoes anyways, but we were both still disappointed in the outcome. I mentioned to her that alternative minimalist running shoes were coming to the market, like the Alteras
, and that within a few more months more and more competition for the VFF's would be available. Lo and behold, during my online browsing just now I spotted an ad for the Soft Star RunAmoc shoe
, a moccasin take on the running shoe.
I first heard of Soft Star mocs about a year ago as a great minimalist shoe, but the styling and look just didn't seem appropriate for everyday use, especially in an office. I settled on Vivo Barefoot
shoes for my work and weekend use, and I now own three pairs of them! While the original mocs could
be used for running, their delicate leather makeup would not last against prolonged exposure to pavement. This new offering, with soles only 2mm thick (and made by Vibram, coincidentally), could be a great alternative for my lovely wife since the VFF's just don't fit her little toes. They look very comfortable, and since they're advertised as running shoes I'm assuming they're durable, though we won't know that until they've been tested.
The Soft Star company has excellent looking offerings for casual footwear, and one day when I have little Bennys running around the yard, I'd be happy to see my kids in these shoes!
With all the hype that barefoot and minimalist running has been receiving lately, it was only a matter of time before knockoff and real competition entered the product space in this niche market. BirthdayShoes.com had a great article on knockoff Vibram Five Fingers
, but there has also been bigger shoes companies that have tried to gain a foothold in the "natural running" market. Nike has come out with their "Free" line, which in my opinion are too cushion and too big a heal, and MBT has come out with the clunkiest shoe of all time (sorry Buttahnut), to just name a couple.
Then there is the more barefoot competition, like Sockwa
, Vivo Barefoot
, and now Altera
. These new Alteras look to be the most like VFFs, but without the obvious toe pockets. They may even be a better looking alternative to regular everyday sneakers, but that is too tough to say without actually wearing them and seeing them with jeans. I'm curious and excited to find out more about them, but depending on their distribution, it could be hard to track one down.
I'm sure this niche will become more and more saturated, especially by the big shoe manufacturers trying to keep pace with this ever-growing market.
Yesterday afternoon I participated in a barefoot run across the Brooklyn Bridge with a few other barefoot runners including John Durant of "Caveman Lifestyle" notoriety
, and Erwan Le Corre, founder of MovNat
, an exercise and movement system based on the common and primal movements of humans, such as running, jumping, swimming, crawling, etc. I first heard of Erwan about a year ago when I was looking into alternative workouts, and based on the few YouTube videos I saw of him
, I could tell he was legit. When I met him yesterday, I confirmed that he was the real deal. He had a handshake that felt like it could crush a rock, and he was in really great shape.
There were about seven of us participating in the running class, and the first thing Erwan did was encourage us to remove our shirts, as it is a more natural way to train. He told us not to worry about the thousands of tourists walking by and to concentrate on our own learning, and ignore what other people think of you. As a wearer of Vibram Five Fingers, I've become nearly immune to the stare and quiet whispers about my shoes, and even embraced it by creating Barefoot Benny Personal Fitness
, so ignoring the crowds wasn't too difficult for me to do. If a bunch of guys without shoes nor shirts standing in the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge on a chilly day in April enough of a spectacle, there was a film crew on hand filming this class, probably for some promotional stuff that will go on his site. I think we gave the tourists a lot to remember about NY ("Look at those crazy Americans!)
Erwan gave us his thoughts on barefoot running in a very clear and well-thought out manner. He has the same philosophy on running as Dr. Romanov's Pose method
, which includes keeping your back straight and body in line, using gravity to propel you forward, and pulling your feet off the ground as opposed to pushing off. Out of respect to his upcoming business venture of teaching his system, I won't divulge any of his trade secrets, but I can say that a man with 19 years of barefoot running experience definitely knows a thing or two. We did some leaning drills to get over our feel of falling, and then progressed to running for a minute up and down the bridge while the film crew captured out every barefoot step.
One of the film crew interviewed me at the end of the session, asking me about my VFF's. While still shirtless, I told my tale of how I couldn't run without pain and swelling in my knee after my two knee surgeries, and how now I'm running half marathons without any problems. I also told the camera about my personal training company and how it's based off the idea of being barefoot.
The whole afternoon was a great experience, and it was pretty cool speaking with Erwan and seeing his skills in the flesh. It was also great speaking with Mr. Durant and some of the other barefoot runners in attendance yesterday. Check out the MovNat website for updates on his training program and to learn some of the philosophy behind efficient and productive movement.
My good buddy Marky Mark recently told me about a somewhat new treatment for people suffering from sports and other injuries called platelet-rich plasma therapy. PRP supposedly helps tendon, muscle, and ligament injuries by regenerating platelets and other blood components at the site of injury, thus repairing damaged tissue. According the NYU Orthopaedic website
, "The procedure involves taking a small amount of blood from your arm. The blood is then placed in a special processing unit that separates the platelets and growth factors from the other blood components. The platelets and growth factors are then collected in a sterile syringe and injected into the targeted tissue."
How awesome would that be for people like me who tore their ACL's and would rather not have to undergo surgery? Tiger Woods even underwent the treatment to help recover from his knee surgery. Unfortunately, the procedure is still not standardized nor proven to be 100% effective. In an article published by ABC News
, it was found that PRP didn't fare much better than placebo. I guess the jury is still out if the procedure works or not, but I'm an optimist and would give it a go if the need ever arose, assuming I can swing the cost, which could run around $500-$1,500 per shot.
For further reading, check out this recent article by the New York Times
You can now follow your favorite barefoot personal trainer on Twitter @BarefootBenny
At this past Monday's boot camp one of the clients I trained was Julia, writer of the creative and informative blog "Buns of Steal."
Her blog is about her quest to work out regularly without every paying for a gym membership. Julia contacted me last week and was excited to give the Barefoot Benny Boot Camp a whirl, and on Monday she shucked off her shoes and kicked some tush. Read her full review on her blog.
For the record, I am not a hippy, though I used to play competitive ultimate and I can still hacky sack.
I was checking out BirthdayShoes.com today and they had an excellent article on how to transition into barefoot or minimalist running
. I've spoken with a few clients recently after boot camps, and told them barefoot running is incredible, but if you have to start off slow so you don't injure yourself. Your feet have been trapped in shoes and sneakers for most of your life, and going out for an hour long run would be like a skinny kid going to the gym and stacking six 45 lb. plates on the bench press bar. You're just looking for trouble. The article stresses going out slow and letting your skin be your guide. Check out the article, especially if you're thinking of making the transition, and feel free to contact me for some barefoot running lessons!