Friday, July 11, 2014

PiYo: Core Review

Yesterday, I got to check out a new PiYo workout, Core. This was a 30 minute workout that focused on your abs and back.

I think we can all agree that half an hour is a decent time to spend just on the core, but Chalene, as with the other PiYo workouts, keeps this beginner-friendly with frequent breaks. There wasn't any point where I felt like I might collapse because the workout was non-stop. We kept the reps low and went back into Child's Pose frequently.

There were six parts to the workout. The most ab-specific, were the exercises done on the back and side (see Supine & Side Plank). We did a lot sets of criss-cross, which really works the abs. The side plank moves are all ones that we've seen in earlier workouts, like Sweat. I am really starting to get the hang of the PiYo Pike and find I can really tuck my hips under quite well in side-plank.

The section of the workout that introduced the most new moves was the penultimate one, PiYo Pedal and Punter. The new move here was the Punter. In this move you are in plank with one leg down. You bring your other leg up to the side towards the elbow and then kick it out. I don't have great hip mobility, and I was a challenge getting that leg up there! This is one move where I will need to practice to get my alignment in good shape -- it's an awkward motion to be sure.

Here is the moves list for the workout. You can see how much ab work is involved. Chalene does a good job of mixing up the types of ab work that you do -- standing, on the back, on the side -- so that you are working different muscles throughout.

Curl down, lift up
Roll down & All fours
Round back up and down
Neutral posture
Tuck knee & extend leg (then alt. lead)
Crouching down dog & down dog (repeat)
Down dog
Walk feet to hands, roll up

Standing crunches
Add a tap
Add knee up
Bring leg behind & bend in rainbow position
Three bends, then tap
Single bend, single tap
Knee up, contract
Arms down
Life arms, bend down, raise up
Repeat series (alt. lead)

Down dog
Lift leg, open up hips
Tap ankle, lift again
Knee forward, lift again
Knee forward & knee outside
Knees to the mat
Elbow plank
One knee down
Other knee to outside x4
Whole leg outside x4
Child's pose
Repeat series (alt. lead)
Side plank
Reach to front, lower arm and lower hip
PiYo Pike
Child's pose
Repeat series (alt. lead)

Lie back, hands behind head
Lift and slightly bend knees
+ push on thighs
+ reach arms
Lie down, neutral position
Raise arms straight up
Slow roll-up (8-count)
Side plank
Reach overhead & lower down hips
PiYo Pike
PiYo roll down
Repeat entire series (alt. lead)

Pedal legs
Pedal while rising and falling
Swing around to all-fours
Side plank with one knee down
Reach up
Reach leg back & pull forward and tuck
Turn tuck into kick (PUNT!)
Repeat side plank series (alt. lead)
Child's pose

Go to all-fours
Cat cow
Round back
Thread the needle (then alt. lead)
Round back
Sweep legs around
V-sit with feet on ground
Bend and round back
Sit cross-legged

Like all of the PiYo workouts, I think Core works as a supplemental workout to compliment other exercise you might be doing. Except for in the case of beginners, I don't feel that PiYo on it's own would be enough of a workout for weight loss or for developing muscle, depending on your focus.

My favorite part about the Core workout was that I saw some ab exercises that I don't do all the time, such as the Punt and Side Plank moves. There was a lot of criss-cross, which I do all the time, but I find this to be a really effective exercise, so I think it was well placed.

Overall, I feel about this workout like I do most of the PiYo workouts: It's okay. I like it. It's helpful to do something that I wouldn't normally do -- something easier -- but it's not the most effective workout I can imagine. I find myself liking the workouts that focus on dynamic stretching, like Define: Lower Body, the most since that is really what I need from a supplemental program at this point (since I am training hard for the Spartan Beast). The longer workouts, such as Sweat, are better for someone wanting to make this their only workout for the day. Even so, I think Sweat, the longest and "hardest" workout I've done in the program so far, is not what I'd feel is enough for a complete workout.

The main benefit that I feel I've gotten from PiYo is that I certainly feel less tight in my legs. I do think that the dynamic stretching movement, especially in Define: Lower Body, is helping keep my hips healthy and open. That's great considering I've been doing a lot of running. The workouts that focus more on toning, such as Definite: Upper Body and Core might be a nice bonus on weight training day, but I don't think they are a substitute for true resistance training.

Next week, the workout schedule calls for trying out two new workouts, Buns and Strength Intervals. I'm interested to see how those go!

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