comments 23

In which I keep fit

Since I started at the gym,

My laps are speedy, times more trim.

I in the past ran out of puff,

My legs were never strong enough.

Now only one thing’s less than fab:

The contribution from my abs.

Why is it that work on the core,

Is such a total, indescribable PITA?  


[This evening I went for a run. I usually go once a week or every other week, but recently I’ve started going to the gym on top of that.  I love the machines at the gym; they have numbers that go round, which keeps me amused.  Bearing in mind that a few years ago I used to run twice a week, I’m amazed at how much stronger I’ve become now – legs and stamina – than I was even then, just by doing targetted exercises. However, my core strength is the thing that lets me down.  I have yet to find a way of making sit ups fun.]



    • I love the elliptical (I think we call it a cross trainer over here). My neighbour who is a sports scientist swears by them – apparently they work out the whole body and benefit everyone from beginners upwards. The first time I went on it, it told me to “keep pedalling – or machine will turn off” as I was finding it so difficult that my revs were getting too low. It’s still hard work, but I like the fact that it is low impact.

  1. Wow! I’m impressed! I er hardly do any planned exercise. My unplanned exercise though includes running after the kids and all that. 😛

    • I’m sure that all counts. There’s all that lifting as well, which requires mighty feats of strength.

  2. The bad news is, there’s no way to make sit-ups fun. The good news is that there’s better things to do than sit-ups to strengthen your core anyway. Although they may not be fun either…

    • This is what I was hoping some kind person would enlighten me on. What are they, do pray tell? At the moment I only have sit ups for core. I was hoping it would be like legs: years of running did not do as much to strengthen my legs as much as a few weeks of pedalling like a maniac at 80 rpm until wobbling like a jelly and unable to stand.

      • I think this is partly because running responds better to high intensity interval training than your core; your sports scientist neighbour may put me right on this, but the former is a test of aerobic fitness and the latter anaerobic, and HIIT is disproportionately effective for the first.

        Also, doing sit-ups is good at making you capable of doing more sit-ups.

        So you need some variety: planks, and sideways planks, are quite good, as is anything involving a gym ball. (I sit on a ball all day at work, and I think that has some benefit, although working up to a whole day is a gradual affair unless you want to screw your back up.)

        Pilates is really, really, really good for your core. It’s also more functional as you’re training for useful movements (whereas, unless you’re competing in the 2014 Sit-Up World Championships, again, sit-ups are just ok). I find that running taxes my abdominals a bit, but that may be because they’re weaker than other components; any other exercise that rewards good core stability (riding a mountain bike, or a horse, or doing martial arts) will get you a stronger core eventually – I’m not sure that there are such fast routes to improved performance like pedalling like a maniac can be for running.

      • Bah! This was what I suspected but was hoping not to have confirmed. I know that yoga helped a lot – once I had a workout session with a keep fit friend and ironically in those days the *only* section I had a hope of keeping up with was the core section. But it is so time consuming.

        Sports science friend actually takes it to an extreme and subscribes to the theory that all we have to do to keep a working level of fitness is to do 3 x 1 minute of *absolute maximum intensity* aerobic work out every day, as well as general activity for suppleness etc.

        I am quite attracted to the idea of sitting on a gym ball at work, working out without using up any extra time. And actually, planks are OK, they are better than sit ups.

  3. Well done for sticking at it Denise, it’s amazing how fast your fitness comes back once you start working out regularly. I can thoroughly recommend a home DVD called ’10 Minute Solutions – Target Toning’ it’s worked wonders for me over the last five years!

  4. Gwen Stephens

    Agreed, Denise. I had doing the abs. Right now I’ve loosely committed to 50 sit-ups as soon as I get out of the shower in the morning. Scheduling it in this way has helped me stick to it, sort of. I even timed it one day to see how much of an inconvenience this little ritual imposes on my day: 2 minutes. Guess I can’t use the “I don’t have time” excuse.

    • And don’t the results of your 50 a day look good! It’s weird how I can’t stick to things that don’t have an immediate reward though – even though the bike and cross trainer are just as repetitive, the fact that the machine is *telling* me how much benefit I am having makes me stick at it,

  5. I am in awe. Any exercise impresses me. Gyms sound good in theory but I’ve never become hooked. Does photography count as exercise?

    • Some of those cameras are darn heavy! And some kind of wildlife photography counts as endurance in my book – a friend of mine waited 3 hours for a particular shot of a duck.

  6. So impressed! I am hopelessly unfit, but still in love with tai chi – which is hardly going to do anything for me in the cardiac way but is apparently very good for the lymph system, so okay. As for core strength, gah! Always the problem. I did planks for a while before bed every night and that did improve it fast, but I also gave up fast out of sheer tedium.

    • I like the “improve it fast” part of that comment and may fixate upon that for encouragement and ignore the “tedium”.

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