Trainer, author, and fitness model, Kirk Charles, NASM-CPT CES, knows that life can get more complicated as you age. But that shouldn’t stop you from being at the top of your game. He will help you answer the tough training questions that come with age so that you too can live to be over 40.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, many people worked at home, sat all day and suffered from endless Zoom meetings. This is a big problem for older men who have core problems, especially lower back pain. Many of my 40+ customers have complained of discomfort, and all of my 50+ customers have problems.
But, as I remind them all, weak abs can also lead to a bulky back. Bad posture also plays a role. Even as a personal trainer, I also get lazy and wrong – I’ve noticed that my back sometimes feels like it’s frozen in one position and all movements become awkward. Even so, it is important for the older man to protect himself with targeted stretches and exercises in order to build a rock-hard core.
One that I recommend is the kitty, which I had used all along in my pre-pandemic stretching classes. The exercise is one that everyone loves because it is effective and fairly easy to do, but it can also be challenging. The movement flexes and extends your lower back, and when done correctly, it can also help strengthen your abs and core stability.
To set up, get on all fours with your hands just below your shoulders and your knees hip-width apart just below your hips. Your first step is to arch your lower and upper back as much as possible and look up at the sky. Imagine your stomach falls to the floor and you squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold this position for a few seconds. Then slowly bend your spine by tucking in your bum and rounding your back. Imagine lifting your rounded spine to the ceiling and bringing your forehead to your stomach as you feel your shoulder blades spread apart. In this position, suck and squeeze your abs as tight as possible. Hold this position for a few seconds. This is a repetition.
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The nice thing about the kitten is that the flow between spinal extension and flexion moves you through a wider range of motion than most older men are used to, especially those who sit a lot. Too often we forget that the back requires different stretches and exercises to work it out thoroughly. In the female cat, each vertebra participates in the movement in segments. By adding rotational and lateral movements to your regime as well, you have everything you need to effectively unlock your spine and prepare for movement at all levels of movement.
If you sit to work all day, it is a good idea to introduce the kitty into your routine. As you do the exercise, you can vary the amount of time you spend in the flexion or extension position. I recommend 8 repetitions with a hold time of 5 seconds.
As an alternative, I often hold the flex position for 20 to 30 seconds as an isometric exercise. It’s a safe abdominal movement for those with back pain when doing crunches or other types of core exercise.
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