Inner tubes, beer bellies, love handles, fluff, pooch, baby bellies and muffin tops; they all describe one area that both men and women often desire to change about themselves. As a personal trainer, that is one of the top goals if not THE top goal I get from clients. As they grab their “extras” or pat their “pooch”, they say, “I want to get rid of this!”
The fitness marketers and infomercial folks grab ahold of this desire with a vengeance claiming that their piece of equipment, their diet or their workout will give you “flat abs” and “strengthen your core.” We all know a handful of people (maybe you) that have an ab roller or a piece of late night infomercial equipment claiming this reward, but is now tucked tightly underneath the bed or in the corners of the closet collecting dust.
What is your core? How do you get flat abs anyway? In this post, we’ll hit on what your “core” is and how you strengthen it. In a follow up post, I’ll give you the “formula” and the best exercises for flat abs.
C. is for center. Your core is your center, like the core of an apple. Your core muscles include not only your abdominals, but your obliques (sides of your body), some very deep internal muscles (tranversus abdominis and others) your gluteals (backside) and some of your back muscles. Your core provide strength for your limbs to perform at a most proficient level, support for postural alignment, and stability for your spine and hips. Essentially, your core helps your body move efficiently.
O. is for “out and away”. You strengthen your core by moving your arms and legs out and away from the center of your body in multiple directions usually working against gravity.
Here is an exercise utilizing this principle.
R. is for resistance. You can use resistance to challenge your core. Medicine balls, kettle bells, stability balls, BOSU balls, and resistance bands are a few common pieces of equipment used to bring extra work to the core muscles.
Here is an example of an exercise using kettle bells causing the core muscles to engage for control.
E. is for even vs. uneven surfaces. Doing exercises on one leg, only using one arm at a time, or using an unstable surface also strengthens your core muscles as they are engaged to help keep your balance since there is unequal weight on opposing sides of the body.
Here’s an example of someone utilizing this trick while doing a simple bicep curl.
Having a strong core has so many more benefits than the look of flat abs. It is an absolutely necessary area to train for all sports and functional life. I’ll follow up in the next post with some great exercises to train your “core” in a workout you can do at home AND give you the secret to flat abs.