Friday 5: Unusual Core Strength Exercises

In recent years, athletes from a wide variety of sports have accepted the importance of good core strength. Maintaining a stable base from your hips to your torso allows more efficient movement and lessens your risk of injury. Working to build a strong core is especially important for people who are mostly sedentary when not working out.

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When most people think core strength training, they think crunches, sit-ups and planks. Those standard exercises are better than nothing, and good to have in your regular routine. But your core encompasses so much more than your abs. Many core exercises more effectively target a broader range of core muscles, and help you develop the ability to work your core muscles in sync rather than in isolation. Try adding one or more of these five unusual core exercises to your program.

#1: Farmer’s Carry

What: This exercise entails walking with a relatively heavy weight in one hand, so that your abs, lower back and glutes have to work to stabilize your pelvis.

How: Find a weight that’s challenging to carry with one hand but not so heavy that you can’t keep your shoulders level. A kettlebell or a large jug of water are good choices. Walk holding the weight for 30 seconds; repeat with your other arm. Do three sets per side three times a week.

#2: Australian Crawl

What: This exercise simulates swimming to strengthen your lower back muscles.

How: Lie on your stomach with your arms straight out in front of you. Slightly lift your head, upper chest and lower legs so that your weight is balanced on your midsection. Pretend that you’re swimming by sliding your arms back and forth while kicking your feet. Do for one minute three times a week.

#3: Bicycle Abs

What: This exercise challenges you to maintain a stable pelvis while working your outer abs.

How: Lie on the ground with your hands behind your head. Keep your thighs perpendicular to the ground and your knees at a 90-degree angle. Bring your left elbow to your right knee and straighten your left leg, holding it just above the ground. Then alternate. Do for one minute three times a week.

#4: Axe Chop

What: This exercise is great at improving your ability to stabilize yourself when your balance is challenged, as happens frequently in many sports.

How: Hold a heavy book beside your left ear. Take a step forward with your right foot and quickly draw the book to the outside of your right hip. Stop the object abruptly while staying tall and not flexing your spine. Repeat going from right to left. Do two sets of 10 repetitions per side three times a week.

#5: Swiss Ball Roll Out

What: This exercise works your abs at least as well as crunches do, but in concert with other core muscles, making it more applicable to the real world.

Position yourself on your knees with your forearms and fists on a Swiss ball (also known as a stability ball). While keeping a straight line from your midsection to your lower chest, slowly roll the ball forward by straightening your arms. Go only as far as you can while maintaining good bodily alignment. Pull the ball back to the starting position with your abs more than your arms to complete one repetition. Do 10 repetitions three times a week.

 

What’s your favorite core exercise? Share in the comments below!

Heat Acclimation

With summer officially in full swing, and as training starts to ramp up, it’s important to keep proper hydration strategies top of mind. Staying hydrated throughout the day cannot only help you increase your sport performance, but it can also help you stay safe.

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HEAT ACCLIMATION

One of the most important steps to take before exercising in the summer is to let your body get use to the heat and humidity. Heat acclimation is crucial to help your body adapt to the different environmental conditions that may be present. It can help prevent many heat related illness that have detrimental effects on the body. Start by taking walks or spending more time outdoors just to let your body begins the initial stages of adjusting to higher humidity and temperatures. When moving on to exercising in warmer conditions remember to take it easy the first few sessions.

Slow Down & Monitor Heart Rate

If your normal easy run pace is 7:30 per mile, ease up to 8:30-9:00 per mile for the first few runs. You’ll notice that you may feel the effects of the heat even at a much slower pace, perhaps an increased heart rate or perspiration. Do at least 3-4 of these easy runs before resuming normal training paces and efforts.

Plan Your Route

Be sure to carry fluids with you, or run a loop where a water fountain is accessible. Staying properly hydration throughout the day is the easiest way to help prevent dehydration and other illness that may occur when exercising in warmer conditions. Note: IOM recommendation for daily fluid intake; Men: 3.1 liters, Women: 2.7 liter, and a mere 2-3% in total body water loss can lead to a decrease in exercise performance.

Replenish Electrolytes

In the warmer conditions it’s important to replenish electrolytes as your sweat rate will increase dramatically, and your need for these nutrients will also increase. Drinking plain water over and over again can lead to hyponatremia (low blood sodium), which is a very serious condition that has severe impacts on the normal body functions. Hyponatremia occurs during longer sessions where the athletes drink nothing but plain water, and end up flushing out critical electrolytes that are needed to maintain many internal functions (For example; Sodium/Potassium pump).  During hyponatremia the body starts searching internally for sodium, when your stores are depleted the body will then turn to your kidneys for sodium in order to maintain vital functions. Taking sodium away from key organs can lead to kidney failure, which can lead to cardiac arrest. So for those longer runs, or sessions where it’s a bit warmer carry a bottle with you, and make you throw in a tablet or two of Nuun.

Be aware of these signs and symptoms of dehydration and heat related illness:

  • Headache                                                                  
  • Muscle cramping                                                      
  • Fatigue                                                                      
  • Excessive thirst                                                        
  • Excessive sweating (post workout)
  • Dry mouth                
  • Dry skin
  • Chills/goosebumps                                                  
  • Dizziness
  • Fever
  • Increased heart rate
  • Low blood pressure

 

Additional Resources:
1. Brochure on proper fluid intake by ACSM:  http://www.acsm.org/docs/brochures/selecting-and-effectively-using-hydration-for-fitness.pdf
2. Noakes, T. (2012). Waterlogged. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics
3. Institute of Medicine: DRI’s for Electrolytes and Water
Photo credit: Nuunbassador Jessica

 

Friday 5: Our Favorite Nuun Cocktails and Mocktails

At the Nuun offices, you’ll mostly see Nuun tablets dissolved in water as the beverage of choice. But we’re nothing if not experimenters, and over the years have tried building all sorts of drinks with Nuun.

For your summer sipping pleasure, here are five Nuun employees’ favorite Nuun-based cocktail or mocktail. Let us know what you’ve come up with in the comments section below!

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1. Nuunmosa

From Arielle Knutson, Marketing Manager

Ingredients:

  • Champagne
  • ½ Nuun tablet (we recommend watermelon, strawberry lemonade, or orange)

Pour a splash of Champagne in a champagne flute. Add the half Nuun tablet and allow it to dissolve completely to prevent overflow. Fill the remainder with Champagne, slowly.

2. The Mellön

From Megan Wheeler, Race Director Program Manager

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablet watermelon Nuun
  • 5 oz. water
  • 1.5 oz. vodka
  • 0.5 oz. lemon juice
  • 2 mint leaves

Start the Nuun tablet dissolving in water. Combine the other ingredients with ice, and shake. Pour into a tall glass and add the Nuun water. Garnish with the mint leaves.

3. Cherry Limeade Slushy

From Vishal Patel, Nutritionist/Education & Innovations Leader

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 cups crushed ice
  • 1 cherry limeade Nuun tablet
  • 16 oz. water
  • 1 mint leaf

Dissolve the Nuun tablet in the water. In a blender, combine the ice and the Nuun water. Pour into a tall glass, and garnish with the mint leaf.

4. Nuunarita Snow Cone

From Tyler Smith, National Sales Manager

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. cup freshly ground snow cone ice
  • Tequila
  • 6 lemon lime Nuun tablets
  • 16 oz. water

Dissolve the six Nuun tablets in the water to make a syrup. Using a tequila-to-syrup ratio of 2-to-1, pour the tequila and syrup over the ice to desired strength and volume.

#5. Rum and (Cherry) Coke

Emma Kesler, Sales Coordinator

Ingredients:

  • Ice
  • 10-12 oz. carbonated water
  • ½ Kona cola Nuun tablet
  • ½ cherry limeade Nuun Energy tablet
  • 1-2 oz. rum

In a 16-ounce glass, pour half of the carbonated water over ice. Add the two Nuun half tablets. When they’re mostly dissolved, add the rest of carbonated water. (This reduces overflow from effervescence.) Add the rum, and stir.

Emma’s First 5k

Team Nuun keeps growing and growing, and one of our newest and brightest additions is Emma. She recently got inspired to run her first 5k, and not only knocked it out of the park but benefited the Seattle Animal Shelter with her sweat!

So how did it go? Read below for her firsthand account and some pretty compelling reasons to join in the Furry 5k fun next year!

Furry 5k Finishline

One can’t work at a place like Nuun long before getting swept up in the positive, fanatically active lifestyle at the office. After only a month, I started feeling convicted to stretch myself by trying a new activity: running. I have to admit that this was an odd choice for me, as I’d always despised distance running. Maybe it was the contented looks on my coworkers faces when they’d come back from their “runches” (runs during lunches) that made me think twice, or maybe I just wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. Either way, I pulled the trigger and signed up for the Furry 5k (dogs welcome!) to benefit the Seattle Animal Shelter.

I announced to the office that I had my first 5k on the horizon, and received enthusiastic support and encouragement. A coworker (running guru Vishal) provided me with a training regimen that I thought sounded embarrassingly easy. I scoffed at the idea of a 20 minute run just three times a week, but surprise, running is HARD. I was having a tough time hitting even one mile before I needed to stop and walk, and I was kind of mortified.

The night before the race I was fairly discouraged, and admittedly tempted to “forget” to set my alarm clock and sleep through the race. But I thought of all the well-wishes I had received from my coworkers on Friday, and knew I couldn’t walk in Monday morning without a bib and a race story. So I went anyway.

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This is what I found: The energy at a race is awesome. All types of people, big and small, young and old, beginners and pros, showed up in support of the cause. Seward Park was wriggling with happy dogs. My husband signed up last minute and offered to pace with me, which was invaluable. I may have been the slowpoke that fell behind the waves of sprinters, but at least I had someone else to share my conservative pace. And to my absolute surprise, once the race had started, I made it to that elusive one mile mark without any trouble. I was almost too busy pointing out cute puppies and laughing at dogs who hated running more than I did to notice. And then I was at the 1.5 mile marker. And then the 2! It wasn’t until I hit a massive uphill that I had to slow to a walk for the first time. My confidence soared, and I realized that maybe, possibly, I was enjoying running. Crossing my first finish line felt pretty remarkable.

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Bonus list: Awesome things seen at the Furry 5k (and reasons why you should come run it with me next year).

1. Fluffy little Pomeranian Price Philip, who (with his owner) won the race and set the Pomeranian world record for a 5k.
2. Pit-bull kissing booths. Self-explanatory.
3. Water stations with kiddie pools for hot pups (And the pups that refused to get that far before cooling off, and bee-lined for Lake Washington, dragging their owners behind them).
4. A dog owner drinking nuun, then squirting some into a cup to share with her golden retriever.
5. More adorable pups in race bandanas than I knew what to do with. Puppy kisses galore.

Photo credit: Caitlyn Walsh