Workout Wednesday: Abs

This week I’m trying out the Abs workout from SweatBetes and chatting with Ginger Vieira about it.

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Here’s the data for today’s abs session:

  • Exercised 1-1/2 hours after breakfast
  • Starting BG 160
  • 15 minutes Abs workout
  • Midpoint BG 136
  • 15 minutes on stationary bike just below my target heart zone
  • Ending BG 136

I definitely felt this workout. After 15 minutes of curling up, stretching out, and trying to plank I can now tell you where my abs are on my body. At some point I thought this might be my “favorite” SweatBetes workout. But that might have been the lack of oxygen talking.

I did try to plank. Honestly, I did. It was kind of splintered though.

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Corinna: Ginger, what’s so important about building strength in the core?

Ginger: A weak core would be like having weak tree trunk! LOL…or perhaps there’s a better analogy? Put it this way: back pain is probably one of the most common complaints in terms of physical discomfort, and that is usually the result of two things: (1) Tight hamstrings (the long muscles on the back of your leg and (2) A weak core!

The muscles in your core help you stand up straight, support your upper body, walk properly – you name it!  When we’re sitting at our desks all day, hunched over, we are not engaging our cores at all! And thus those muscles become pretty weak unless you make an effort to strengthen those core muscles during your workouts. (This is a big reason why people are so fond of standing desks: when you’re standing all day, with good posture, you’re engaging your core.)

Corinna: This video is set up differently from the rest. No sets, just a series of exercises.  Why is that?

Ginger: In order to work the same muscle for 15 minutes, you’ve gotta take care of it a little differently. Imagine if we just worked your shoulders for 15 minutes in a row without swapping over to another muscle group in order to give your shoulder muscles a break? By working through a variety of core exercises that target different aspects of core (but are still engaging your entire core), this hopefully keeps those muscles from getting too worn out too soon during that 15 minute period of time! Also, I want to keep the pace up and keep you engaged while focusing on only one muscle group, so changing it up is a bit more entertaining than the standard circuit structure!

Corinna: When I first heard “engage your core” I thought that meant hold my stomach in. But in this video you describe it as “pulling the bellybutton in toward the pelvis and pulling the pelvis in toward the bellybutton.” That’s different.

What should I be doing to “engage my core?” What should I be paying attention to?

Ginger: Well, “holding your stomach in” really is another way of saying drawing your bellybutton in towards your pelvis! In the end, it’s about ensuring that you’re using those muscles. You could do a plank, for example, and not engage your core at all because instead you’re letting your spine arch and bear weight rather than letting your muscles bear the weight. By reminding you to “engage your core,” I’m reminding you to bring your utmost attention to those muscles to ensure that the muscles, not your spine, is doing the work.

Corinna: And I’m supposed to keep breathing too?

Ginger: Always 😉 and that’s the hardest part of core exercises! Generally, during other exercises we engage our core muscles naturally, during a squat for example, and naturally hold our breath during that moment. When you’re working your core, you might find you are constantly holding your breath unless you remind yourself to exhale and inhale! Eventually, you will breath any way, because you’re not an X-Men mutant who can live without oxygen! Your body will naturally remind you to breathe…so I wouldn’t worry too much about ensuring that it happens. I’ve never heard of anyone suffocating themselves to death while working their core! 😉

Corinna: The first part of this video has exercises to do on your hands and knees. Those seem do-able. Maybe not with the full range of movement at first. Then there are floor exercises to do while laying on your back. We’re okay, so far.

Then there’s…planking. I know you’ve been encouraging about trying to do what I can, but planking intimidates me. Is it okay to start out picking and choosing which of these exercises to do and add the rest later? Or is the best way to try and do every kind of exercise?

Ginger: Oh, if I were in the room with you, I’d never let you get away with skipping an exercise merely due to feeling intimidated! 😉 Try doing your plank with your knees on the ground, rather than full plank position, and I think you’ll surprise yourself.

Over the years, as a trainer, I can’t tell you how many times I heard someone say, “Oh my gosh, I don’t think I can do that!!!” after simply watching me demonstrate the next exercise I wanted them to perform.

My response? “How do you know you can’t do it if you haven’t tried it yet?”

9 times out of 10, they not only could do the exercise, they could do it really well and liked it!

Give it a try!

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I’ll be trying out the SweatBetes videos and checking in with Ginger over the next few weeks on TuDiabetes. Join the conversation at

If you want to get your own copy of the SweatBetes videos, they are available for download at the bargain price of $5. All proceeds go to support the Big Blue Test.