PREFACE: Body Combat was canceled on Wednesday, so I thought I’d venture into the garage to do a core-strengthening workout and document it for this category on TALC.
I say “venture into” because it’s been a while since I’ve worked out in the garage. When summer started, I hung in with the heat for as long as I could, and then I tapped out and migrated most of our dumbbells into the house.
It was over 110 degrees on Wednesday at 5:00pm, and it was even hotter in the garage. I opened the garage door halfway and left the back door open. I had a big bottle of water with ice. Still, going out there and doing anything at all was foolish.
THE DISCLAIMER: These posts always come with disclaimers (I’m not a trainer, this post is not a tutorial, etc.), and those all stand for this one, as well, but here’s one really important one that I can’t stress enough: I was reckless in working out in the garage in extreme heat. DO NOT work out in the heat!! Unless you’re doing hot yoga, relegate your workouts to a comfortable, temperature-controlled environment… especially in the desert in the summer.
THE WORKOUT: The core is the body’s center. It covers a large area, pretty much the entire torso – front, back (especially lower back), and sides – as well as the upper legs, hips, and glutes. There are probably hundreds of exercises you can do to strengthen your core, and for myself, I like to change things up frequently.
I also tend to favor exercises that are functionally useful for combat sports, and Wednesday’s core-strengthening workout was no exception.
Here’s what I decided to do:
- Dumbbell cross crunch
- Dumbbell bench kick-outs
- Triangle choke leg raise
- Reverse lunge to knee strike
- Crunch with medicine ball throw
- Dumbbell V-up
- Plank hold (2 minutes)
–I defaulted to 8 lb dumbbells for the three dumbbell exercises, because those are the only ones left in the garage besides our 30 lb set.
–The medicine ball I use is also 8 lbs.
–Because of the heat, I only did one set of each exercise (normally I’d do three or four).
That I did this workout in a veritable oven and lived to tell about it is something of a miracle, may I add. I’m not proud of it, either. I nearly met my death by garage cremation; it would’ve been a Darwin Award.
But I’ve got these pics snipped from the workout footage, as usual.
1). Dumbbell cross crunch:
Dumbbell cross crunch
[I’m crunching up and twisting to the left (while punching out diagonally with the right hand) and to the right (while punching out diagonally with the left hand), keeping my non-punching hand up to guard the side of my face. This exercise is great without dumbbells, too.]
My feet are hooked under the 30 lb dumbbells for stabilization. In training gyms, we partner up and hold each other’s feet. Heavy dumbbells are a good substitute.
This works your abs, obliques (sides of the torso), shoulders, and upper back.
2). Dumbbell bench kick-outs:
Dumbbell bench kick-outs (on MMA dummy)
[It’s a weird angle, but you can see the red dumbbell between my feet. I’m gripping the handles on the sides of the bag and stabilizing myself with my elbows with my upper body elevated while repeatedly pressing my legs forward and back from a bent position, bringing my knees as close to my body as possible each time.]
Rather than dragging our bench into the camera’s field of vision, I used the MMA dummy. This increases difficulty because the bag is round and therefore unstable.
This works the entire core.
3). Triangle choke leg raise:
Triangle choke leg raise
[Stabilizing myself with my arms, I’m keeping my hips up off the floor while quickly switching my feet behind the opposite knee, elevating my hips further while doing the switch and clamping down with the bent top leg. I’m basically alternating my legs while pulsing up with my elevated hips each time. That’s awkward to explain. You can get the idea from the pic.]
Your butt never touches the floor.
This works the entire core, particularly the lower abs, and I also feel this a little in my upper body as I engage my shoulders to keep my arms pressed to the ground.
4). Reverse lunge to knee strike:
(This is a two-part exercise.)
Reverse lunge to knee strike (lunge – part 1)
[Part 1. I’m taking a deep step back to sink into a lunge, and I’m keeping my lower body facing forward while twisting my upper body to the opposite corner with my arms up and my hands together.]
Reverse lunge to knee strike (knee – part 2)
[Part 2. In one explosive movement, I’m pulling my arms down diagonally across my body while pulling my rear leg up into a knee strike, pushing my hips forward to drive my knee up high. My arms end up on the outside of my knee.]
This mainly works the quadriceps (front of the thighs), glutes (butt), hip flexors, and obliques.
5). Crunch with medicine ball throw:
(Another two-part exercise.)
Medicine ball crunch (bottom)
[Part 1. Holding a medicine (weighted) ball back behind my head, I’m crunching up as I would doing a standard crunch.]
Medicine ball crunch (top)
[Part 2. Getting to the top of the crunch, I’m thrusting my arms straight up to explosively push the ball into the air, then catching it before lowing myself back down to the starting position.]
Again, my feet are hooked under heavy dumbbells for stabilization.
This works the entire core, plus the shoulders.
6). Dumbbell V-up:
[Keeping my legs straight and together, I’m raising them at the same time that I’m crunching up my upper body, holding a dumbbell in each hand and stretching my arms up toward my toes before simultaneously lowering my upper and lower body back to the floor.
This primarily works the abs and lower abs, plus shoulders.
[From beast position (all fours), I’m quickly kicking each leg out to the opposite side, keeping my same-side hand on the floor for upper-body stabilization (my left leg is kicking, so my left hand stays on the floor.]
In this dynamic exercise, opposite limbs are coordinated in the movements. The left leg and right arm are in the air while the right leg and left arm are planted on the floor.
This works the entire core, plus upper body.
8). 2-minute plank hold:
2-minute plank hold
[I’m holding a basic plank position on my forearms and the balls of my feet.]
I would normally try to hold this position for 3 minutes, but there was no way that was going to happen in the inferno that was my garage that day.
This works the entire core, plus upper body. Personally, I feel this the most in my upper legs and lower back.
And I’m done.
Done. Walking back.
I had symptoms of mild heat exhaustion by the time it was over… my heart was racing, I had a slight headache, and I was slightly dizzy. My bad decision to do this workout in extreme heat could have earned me a Darwin Award!
It was a good workout, though.