Personal trainer, model and yoga teacher Chris Hettinga is all about fitness. In the following article, he discusses some yoga techniques that are designed to strengthen your core and give all of your movements—on and off the mat—more power. Keep reading to find out how yoga can help you meet your ultimate fitness goals.
Stronger, healthier and more mobile
I work as a personal trainer at Het Gymlokaal and Elite Trainers, so you can find me in the gym pretty much every day. I train my regular clients in the mornings and evenings, which leaves me the afternoon to work on my own training. On average, I work out 3-4 times a week, focusing primarily on mobility, movement, yoga, strength training (with and without weights) and gymnastics. Once a week I also follow a kick-boxing class, to keep up my cardio. I maintain my body by using different disciplines and style, which helps me to be stronger, healthier and more mobile.
Be more flexible
Alongside that, I’m also a yoga teacher. Yoga involves a lot of stretching in order to improve your flexibility. Good mobility refers to the amount of useful movements a person can make. With good mobility, you have better freedom of movement in your joints, for example. For this, you need a combination of strength and flexibility to help you move more easily.
Variety is key
When I train, I go through different workouts and routines each time. There are so many ways to train, but I base my decisions on which goal I have. Mine is to become stronger and develop certain skills; it’s not about becoming as broad-shouldered as possible—that’s more of a bonus. For example, a “split” is a specific skill. You start with the basic parts and work towards being able to perform it completely. When I’ve reached my desired goal, I go onto the next skill or routine. In this way, I challenge my body as much as possible.
Pay attention to your core
Your core is a very important element for training. It is the centre of your strength and considered the “hull” of your body. The core is also often seen as the main source of your body’s stability. In order to prevent injuries, it’s important to train your core and stabilize it—giving you good balance. To that end, I’m going to explain 5 basic exercises that train your core.
Plank from the elbows
The plank is an isometric exercise that’s primarily focused on the right side abdominal muscles. Lay flat on your stomach with your arms next to your body and push your elbows towards the ground. Lift your hips and at the same time, tense your abdominals and gluteal muscles. Direct your heels upward and your toes toward the ground. It’s important that you keep your feet at hip width. Hold this for 30 seconds to start and then repeat 3 times.
The push-up is a good exercise for your core, shoulders, triceps and chest. Lay flat on your stomach with your arms at your side, close to your body and backward until your upper arms form a 45- degree angle. Place your hands a bit further apart than your shoulders and push your knuckles into the ground. Completely stretch your arms, elbows pointing behind, tensing your neck and abdominal muscles and push your feet flat into the ground. All the way up and all the way down, so that you nearly touch the floor.
The horizontal pull-up is a somewhat easier exercise for beginners. Namely, it’s a pull-up where you lay horizontally underneath the rod. Position your chest under the rod with your arms stretched and pull your chest towards the rod. Pull your shoulder blades towards one another, keep your elbows behind you and then descend carefully and with control. Hold tight and then go up again. Your arms are now completely stretched while your body remains horizontal. If you find this too difficult, you can bend your knees.
A squat is a knee-bend that takes you nearly all the way to the ground. This is good for your core because it tenses your lower back and abdominal muscles in order to keep your body stable. Position your feet a bit wider than shoulder-width, point your toes forward (or somewhat outward). As you move down, keep your feet in contact with the ground with your body remaining upright and look straight ahead. Then you move into a position that’s similar to sitting in a chair, where your bottom is underneath or at the same level as your knees. Afterwards, you extend your legs out again.
The superman is very good for your core and buttocks. Lay on your back, stretch your arms past your ears, stretch our legs and pull your belly in so that your muscles have to work hard. Then lift your arms and legs at the same time, keeping your belly on the ground. Make sure that your arms and legs are a couple of centimetres above the ground. Hold this position for 30 seconds and feel the contractions in your lower back and gluteal muscles. Extend your neck and look at the ground.
Do the push-ups, horizontal pull-ups and squats in 3 sets of 10: 3 seconds to lower, 1 second to hold, and 1 second to raise yourself. Pay attention to your technique it shouldn’t negatively affect your movement. If you’re having difficulty, choose to do a smaller number of the exercises. It’s about quality over quantity.