Friday, November 11, 2016 • Oshawa, ON L1H 2P9, CA
Let me start off by saying that the title is a bit of a misnomer. I’ll certainly talk about how to strengthen your abs and the muscles found around your mid-section but the core is so much more than that. The core is really made up of any muscle that connects to the pelvis to help stabilize the lumbo-pelvic-hip region. It’s also made up of all the muscles that stabilize the spine. Given that, I’m sure you would be surprised when I tell you that even the hamstrings, quadriceps, lat muscles and butt muscles are all muscles of the core. So, there is so much more to the true core than just your tummy…but nonetheless, we shall go forth with a world class “core” workout.
To understand why the exercises that I’ll mention shortly are so good (world class really!) you need to know what the muscles that you are working out actually do. I’ve broken it up in the table below but to summarize, the muscles in the tummy region are responsible for flexing the spine (like the motion you would see when someone does a crunch) lateral flexion (such as side bends) and rotation (like you would see when swinging a golf club or throwing a ball)
Here are the exercises you will see in the video for your world class routine:
- Ball Crunch: Targets the “6-pack” muscles (8-pack really if you were to count them) because you are flexing the spine. Note that there aren’t upper and lower abs---it’s all one long muscle (with connective tissue—that’s the white spaces you see in the pictures) This is why you can’t really target “lower abs”; it’s all or nothing. Being on a stability ball adds to strengthening the stabilizer muscles.
- Med Ball Lift and Chop: While all your ab muscles are responsible for rotation, this exercise hits the oblique muscles with its twisting movement.
- Plank: You just can’t get away from it—the plank is awesome for increasing your stabilization. It hits the transverse abdominus and the muscles around your spine.
- Two-Leg Floor Bridge: Another great exercise for strengthening and stabilizing the muscles around your spine
Here are the exercises you won’t see in a world class routine:
- Traditional sit-up: In a traditional sit-up you are really bending at the hip (called hip flexion) Abdominal muscles are not responsible for hip flexion therefore a sit-up isn’t the best choice for targeting the area.
- Leg Raises: Again, this exercise primarily involves hip flexion so no need to do them. Especially since most people already have overactive hip flexors from sitting all day. No need to strengthen a muscle that is already too strong
- Crunches with hands behind the head: Never clasp your hands behind your head during a crunch. You will strain your neck and possibly cause injury.
There are other exercises that are good but they all are modifications of the ones mentioned here. For instance instead of Lift and Chops you could do Russian Twists (or just go golfing) and instead of 2-leg Floor Bridge you could do 1-leg Floor Bridges. You get the idea!
Ok, as promised, here is the demonstration video---enjoy!
Oh…almost forgot. You heard the saying “abs are made in the kitchen”. Well what kind of a person would I be if I didn’t include a healthy treat recipe to reward yourself for all your hard work?