Muscle of the Monday: Transversus Abdominis (the deepest of abdominals)

The transverse abdominal muscle wraps around the torso from front to back and from the ribs to the pelvis. The muscle fibers of the transversus abdominis run horizontally, similar to a corset or a weight belt.

Primary Actions:  This muscle doesn’t help move the spine or the pelvis, but it does help with respiration and breathing. This muscle helps facilitate forceful expiration of air from the lungs, stabilizes the spine and helps protect the internal organs.

Functional Connections: A strong core is built from the inside out so the first muscle to build upon is this one.  Because of its functional connection with the diaphragm and breathing, a great exercise is to practice deep breathing control and ‘belly breathing’.

**Begin your inhalation with belly expansion and build it into the ribcage.  Expand everything as much as possible.  Then, don’t just let it all go at once; control the exhalation to match the time it took to take the maximum inhalation.**

Chronic Pain Connections:  By working to control deep inhalation and exhalation you will gain both flexibility and strength deep in your core.  This may aid in digestion, balance and even relaxation.

Latissimus Dorsi – Muscle of the Monday

Muscle of the Monday: LATISSIMUS DORSI or “Lats”

Chronic Pain Connections: Weak Latissimus Dorsi, or Lats with tissue adhesions, most often play a role in chronic Shoulder pain but it may also contribute to Elbow, Wrist, and/or Hip pain.

Primary Actions: Extension, adduction, transverse extension also known as horizontal abduction, flexion from an extended position, and (medial) internal rotation of the shoulder joint. It also has a synergistic role in extension and lateral flexion of the lumbar spine.

Favorite Exercises: For Strength – Chin-ups and Pull-ups. For Stability – Plank Hold, Side Plank, Reverse Table Top.

A Trainer’s Review of Pure Barre

**This is my opinion review after ONLY 1 class, please also read my follow up post after finishing 10 weekly sessions of pure barre classes.**

Here in sunny San Diego there is a fitness craze holding it’s own amongst the rest…Pure Barre classes.  The classes are held in independent studios with wood floors, mirrored walls, and classic ballet barres.  The La Costa studio where I attended is very chic with a boutique-style theme that makes you feel a bit better about the high end price you are paying (~$20/class).  Socks are required, for hygienic reasons I believe, but they encourage the socks with traction (like the type toddlers wear for grip).  I find this is nice for keeping the floors free of smelly feet, but a bit of a marketing ploy for the Pure Barre logo socks so conveniently hung close to the cashier.  Entering into the studio, set yourself up with the mandatory provided equipment- a nice padded mat and small inflatable ball (like a mini 4-square ball).  Just make sure to bring your own small towel and water bottle.

Finally experiencing the workout for myself here are my thoughts:

  •  This is a great fitness addition for your ‘tool box’, but should not be your ONLY workout.
  •  Be prepared to get sore, but just like any new exercise, your body will get used to it if you go regularly.
  • I like how the exercises challenge your balance and focus onto specific muscles.

My biggest challenge was finding a basis for the foundational claims from the Pure Barre website:

Pure Barre is a total body workout that lifts your seat, tones your thighs and burns fat in record-breaking time.Right here my ‘spidey sense’ or ‘common sense’ kicks in being sceptical of anything to make the claim of record-breaking time.

Utilizing the ballet barre to perform small isometric movements set to fantastic music, Pure Barre is the fastest, most effective, yet safest way to change your body. Students see results in just 10 classes“.  Again…really?

Pure Barre is intelligent exercise. The technique protects your joints as it does not involve any bouncing or jumping. Each strength section of the workout is followed by a stretching section in order to create long, lean muscle without bulk.”  I agree here.  The exercises are non-impact, short range of motion exercises that challenge muscle endurance and muscle length (flexibility).  For those that know exercise physiology, this is for the Type-I muscle fibers.

“The workout launches a full blown attack on the areas of the body all women struggle with: abs, hips, seat and arms. It defies gravity by tapering everything in and lifting it up”Here we go again with unrealistic promises.  Yes, the exercises are for the abs, hips, seat and arms but there is no such thing as spot ‘tapering’ or spot lifting.

Therefore, if you keep your feet firmly grounded in the reality that there are NO QUICK FIXES, please enjoy this fun new fitness craze.  Add it to a well rounded fitness regimen and enjoy the variety it brings.  But be forewarned, it is a craze (in my opinion) and it won’t be around forever.

What do you think about Pure Barre?