Strong Core (Not Just for Great Looking Abs)

Strong Core (Not Just for Great Looking Abs)

Many of us work hard to have great looking abs, doing countless crunches and any funky move we can think of to shed belly fat and have a flatter stomach. This blog isn’t meant to dismiss any of that hard work, but the truth is many of us have been deceived, so it’s time we get down to the core of it.

The truth is, you can’t “spot train” your abs; having great looking abs requires more than that, like using up more calories than you take in. However, if you want to have great looking abs, abs are not the number one thing you should focus on. The abdomen muscles are just one part of the many trunk muscles that make up the core, and strengthening the core is where all the real benefits are. Along with the abs, the core consists of the muscles in the lower back and pelvis. When you develop core strength, it enhances the effectiveness of your workouts. More core strength also helps reduce your risk of injury from everyday movements like lifting, bending, and reaching.

 First and foremost, your core improves your posture. To help understand how this works, you can think about your transverse abdominal muscles, which are the muscles that wrap from the sides of your lower back around to the front. If you have a healthy back, you automatically contract your transverse abdominal muscles, along with other core muscles. This contraction helps develop a strong and coordinated core that improves spinal health and stability. Plus, the improved posture you get from core conditioning can lead to a slimmer stomach and the appearance of toned abs.

You can increase the effectiveness of your core exercises if performed along with your aerobic workouts. You can also incorporate weight, such as dumbbells or medicine balls, to some of your core exercises on your strength training days. When you first begin working on core muscle exercises, go slowly, and focus on the form above all things. You want to develop an awareness of the feeling of tightening the abdominal muscles, slightly tucking the tailbone, and drawing the navel in toward the lower back, because this will be the way you activate your core during your core exercises.

So, if you are ready to put your core first and let the great looking abs follow, here are three great exercises you can do. You may already be familiar with these but didn’t realize what exactly you were working before. As you go through these exercises, see if you can feel the difference between core vs. abs, keep the core engaged, and don’t forget to breathe.

 

Dead bug

Lie on your back in a reverse tabletop position with your arms extended out in front of you.

Extend your right leg out straight and lower your left arm behind your head. Bring them both a few inches off the ground. 

Bring your arm and leg back to your reclined starting position. Continue in a fluid motion switching sides, making sure your lower back stays on the ground.

If you need to, keep a bend in the leg or do not lower as far down to keep the lower back from popping up.

 Bicycle Crunch/Criss Cross

Lie on your back in a reverse tabletop position.

Place your hands behind your head, keeping the elbows pointing forward.

Crunch up and bring one elbow and opposite knee to meet at your midline.

Continue in a fluid motion, switching straight from one side to the other.

Rolling Like a Ball

Sit tall with your knees bent and feet on the floor.

Form a ball-like position by wrapping your arms around your legs, holding onto the outside of your ankles. 

Curl your head and chest into your knees and roll back on your spine until your shoulders touch your mat.

Use your core engagement rather than all momentum to roll back up to seated.

Whether or not great looking abs is your main priority, you should consider focusing on the core first. A stronger core will lead to stronger abs, but more importantly, it will enhance your spinal health, posture, balance, stability, and overall fitness.

 

 

 

 


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