“Look at that guy with the great abs… he must have amazing core strength!”
Have you ever heard that? I know I have as a trainer. That same guy couldn’t hold a plank let alone do any core exercise correctly. This is because of an amazing diet, possibly combined with great genetics. But mostly the diet part.
Your rectus abdominus, or “six pack” pretty much looks like that without doing much work. The muscle has the appearance of six segments in order to allow proper motor function during flexion of the spine. yet to see this shaped muscle, takes a very clean diet along with proper exercise programming. I know this is going to be a surprise for most of you because until the day I am not able to PT any more, we will always be fed TV commercials and endless magazine articles on fancy equipment and Ab exercise routines. DON’T WASTE YOU’RE TIME AND MONEY! The appearance of the six pack is only there with the disappearance of the fatty tissue around it.
Good news!! Your six pack abs are there, it’s just hiding under a layer of fat!
So why bother training you’re core?
As an experienced trainer I know one thing to be certain; You want those six pack abs? You gotta move more and eat better.
‘You’re output should be greater then you’re input’
Developing a strong core will allow you to have the best body to work with. This means we should be more concerned about longevity in the gym and make our body as solid and injury resistant as possible. This will allow us to stay on that road to goal achievement as safe as possible and as long as needed.
There are so many ways to activate the core that go well beyond the crunch and sit-up. And for your information those crunches are probably making you look fatter… Seriously! go stand sideways in a mirror. Look at the mirror, now stick your butt out and belly out at the same time. Looks funny? Well Ab crunches in general, are going to make you look more like that than the nice flat look you were going for. I promise!
Core conditioning improves posture, which contributes to a trimmer appearance increasing our confidence and may even grow us an extra inch or two. Developing core muscle strength will also boost the effectiveness of workouts and reduce the risk of injuries that sideline our efforts to stay in shape.
‘Imagine your body like a strong oak tree’ You’re head as the bush, you’re arms as the branches and legs as the roots.’
If you have ever had physical therapy to treat low back pain, you’re probably familiar with the concept of strengthening the core — the muscles in the abdomen, lower back, and pelvis that lie roughly between the rib cage and the hips ‘Think of a ladies corset’. The strength and coordination of these muscles is important not only for sports and fitness routines but also for daily life — for example, reaching up to a cupboard, lifting a child, or putting a seat belt on.
Our problem is we’ve become LAZY! Don’t get angry.. Not always intentionally! but also because of work commitments,driving and comfy sofas etc.
When we work our core muscles this stabilises the spine and will help create a firm base of support for almost every movement.
In my fitness experience I have trained with some big guys, most of them with a massive set of legs. But when they put that loaded bar on their back and try to squat a ridiculous amount of weight you can actually see their lower back wanting to snap! This causes them to lean too far forward likely hurting themselves and potentially causing permanent damage.
‘You cannot fire a cannonball from a canoe’
Exercises that strengthen abdominal and other core muscles should be part of an overall fitness plan at least three to five times a week.
To be safe and effective, core muscle strengthening exercises require proper alignment and progression from one type of exercise to another — adjusted to your body and fitness level. So you may want to ask my self or one of the other fitness professionals for help in planning a program for you.
Start by learning how to “draw in”. Here’s what you do:
Sitting, standing, or lying on your back, gently but firmly tighten the abdominal muscles, drawing the navel in toward the small of the back. The tailbone should be slightly tucked. (BRACE) the muscles, as if you were preparing to take a punch in the stomach. Practice holding this position for 10 seconds at a time while breathing normally. Once you get the hang of drawing in, start doing some core exercises.
Below are just a few exercises that can help strengthen core muscles. Concentrate on performing the exercises correctly, not on the number of repetitions or how quickly you can do them. And don’t forget to breathe!
Lie stomach-down on a mat, resting on your forearms. Tighten your abdominal muscles, and press up so you’re balanced on your toes and elbows. Don’t let your hips sag or stick up: your body should be in a straight line from head to heels. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds; then lower and repeat a few more times. Work up to holding the plank position for 60 seconds.
Lie flat on the floor on your back. Place your fingertips at the back of your head. Tighten your abdominal muscles, bring your knees up to a 45-degree angle, and lift your shoulder blades off the ground. Turn your upper body to the left, bringing the right elbow toward the left knee and extending your right leg. Switch sides, bringing the left elbow toward the right knee. Continue this pedalling motion, slowly, for a total of 12 to 16 repetitions. Rest and repeat. Avoid pulling on the neck.
Stability ball – Arm and leg raise on the ball
Because the ball is intrinsically unstable, core muscle activity is greater when you perform certain exercises on it than when you perform the same exercises on a stable surface.
Lie over the ball stomach down, so that your hips are on top of it and your legs are straight. Toes and fingers should comfortably reach the floor. Tighten your stomach muscles, then lift your right arm and left leg. Hold for five seconds; rest a moment; then repeat with the left arm and right leg. Do eight to 12 repetitions.
Implementing even these basic exercises into your training schedule on a routine basis, will go some way to helping prevent injury, increasing full body strength, and as mentioned, helping you attain that much desired 6 pack!!
Look out for more articles on core training where we’ll take you through more advanced coe Workouts for those who have already mastered the basic moves.
Michael Fireman – Personal Trainer at BodyWorksWest
If you would like more info with regards to Michael, or the Personal Training service we offer at BodyWorksWest, please contact Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org