Big confession: like most of you, I struggle to fit in my workouts, too. There are times when getting to the gym or going for a run is built into my day, right before or after I teach a class. But other days are so busy with computer work, teaching, kids, cooking, cleaning up, and life, I wonder when or if I’ll find the time to exercise. Leaving my computer, driving to the gym, working out, stretching and driving home takes almost two hours, so there are days when that chunk of time just doesn’t exist.
So, what’s my solution to fitting it in? Well, for me it is YouTube. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of exercise videos posted to the site, and I’ve tried many of them. They vary in length from 10 minutes to an hour or more, so finding one that fits into the time I have available is easy. And I don’t have to leave my office. Unfortunately the videos also vary in quality, and I can be a little picky in that department. I want the best workout in the short time that I have and I believe you do, too. So I have decided to review a few videos I’ve tried in an effort to help you all find the best the Internet has to offer. And I’ll tell you how to modify them to make them safer if you have a diastasis recti.
Today’s review is of Bob Harper’s Pure Burn Super Strength Main Workout. If his name rings a bell it’s because Bob Harper is one of the trainers on The Biggest Loser. While I don’t endorse the weight loss methods used on the show, I do like Bob’s style in this video. His light southern accent and makes his no-nonsense-get-to-work style easy to hear. And when the workout gets hard (and this one really does) and you want to stop, Bob’s voice demands in an ever-so-southern way to keep going. “You don’t get fit from ten minutes a day,” he reminds you when the workout is half-way finished. You hear “keep up with me” and “stay right there” and “we’re going to be done soon” at just the right moments. If you’ve wanted Bob Harper as your personal trainer, here’s your chance. This hour long workout is no joke.
The work begins with a nice joint mobility warm up and from the get-go his instructions are clear and concise. He often gives cues to remember holding in the core, which I really appreciate, and those of you who have a diastasis will, too. There are a few moves in this warm up you may want to modify. One of his three instructors doing the video with him is making modifications, so watching her may be of help. Using push ups, for example, you may need to make further changes if your transversus muscle is not yet up for the task. In this case, wall push ups are a great option if you’re newly postpartum or are just starting your fitness routine. In one segment, Bob has his students squat, jump back to plank, do a push up, jump in and stand up. A modification for this might be to squat, step back, hold plank (or knee plank), step in and stand. Or squat, hold squat, and stand back up. Remember, if you cannot hold in your transversus muscle (bellybutton to spine), the movement may not be safe for you.
Bob has his team using hand weights throughout this strength video. If you’re just starting out, you may want to try this workout without any weights at all. I found I wanted three different weights nearby depending on the exercise and sometimes none at all. I used 3 pounds, 5 pounds, and 8 pound dumbbells depending on the movement and my level of fatigue. If you have several to choose from, I recommend keeping them handy to change out if necessary. I do love the variety of weighted movements in this workout: lunges, bent over rows, forearm plank, deadlifts, and isometric holds, among others, all make an appearance in this well-rounded workout.
Two segments that need total modification for mamas come in the second half of the workout. When Bob asks us to lie on our backs and do crunches, the red flag goes off in my head. The other exercise that might seem safe but is actually risky is the standing weighted pullover. This movement uses forceful forward flexion of the spine which engages the rectus abdominus and can worsen separation.
Here are two diastasis-safe choices you could make during these segments:
- Sit cross-legged against a wall with your back supported and hold your navel to spine for 30 counts at a time until the video crunches are finished.
- Safely get on the floor by coming down on your side: hip, shoulder, head down, then roll on to your back. Bend your knees and place your feel flat on the floor. Hold your navel to spine and hold your hand weights above your shoulders. Slowly reach your arms back behind you to a 45 degree angle, making certain to keep your core fully engaged. Return the weights to above the shoulders.
Bob finishes the workout with some tough planks (be careful and mindful of your transversus in these, stopping if you cannot hold it in!) and then a stretch. I found I needed to bring my heart rate down a bit more before stretching, so I paused the video, walked to the kitchen to refill and drink some water and then rejoined the group. The stretching segment feels rewarding after so much strength work. He gives more positive affirmations during that time, “I knew you could do it” and “Good job!” are freely shared at the end of this sweaty, tough class.
I hope you’ll give this one a try and let me know how the modifications go. How did you do with this one? How did you feel the next day? Is there a video you love from YouTube?
Until next week,