How do you train your core muscles?
Situps, crunches, and other spine destroying movements seem to be everyone’s go to exercises. Exercises where the torso flexes are damaging to the back, reinforce horrible posture, and are not going to give you a six pack.
It is still believed that isolated ab work is the best way to get someone to have a flatter or leaner midsection. Diet plays more of a role on how much fat you are carrying than doing 1,000 toe touches per minute.
On the other hand, if you want back problems and rounded shoulders hammer on those situps.
What Muscles Make Up the Core
Your core consists of more than just your rectus abdominis, the muscle that looks like the six pack. It also consists of the transverse abdominis, erector spinae, quadratus lumborum, and the muscles of the hip.
The primary job of all of these muscles is to stabilize the spine. I understand most textbooks would say otherwise but from a functional standpoint, the torso should be erect. All of these muscles work together to keep the spine upright. If one muscle does not do its job, the health of the spine is at risk.
Side note: The rectus abdominis has a beaded structure unlike most other muscles. If it was supposed to flex the torso, it would look like a bicep.
Throw Out What You Know About Core Work
A weak core is detrimental to performance. Training with trunk flexion is only teaching it to move. This is where we need to change our approach.
A strong core allows you to transfer force to the lower and upper body. You cannot squat heavy if there is not pillar through the center of you to keep you stable. Even bench pressing will benefit with whole body stability.
For years, situps and crunches have been a part of fitness tests. This is good for measuring local muscular endurance, but not core stability.
Movements where the torso does not move is most beneficial to performance. Planks and side planks do not require any equipment and can be done pretty much anywhere. They are not easy but they are accessible.
But What About the Burn?
You will not feel the abs burn like they do from crunches, etc when performing core stability exercise. That does not mean that they are not working as hard. The burn just means that the rectus abdominis is working alone.
The abdominal muscles actually work harder from carries or holding heavy weights overhead than from those famous isolation exercises.
Forget about the burn and focus on proper movement. Work on core stability to increase your other lifts. If your performance increases with your training, you will be well on your way to reaching your goals.
You cannot get washboard abs by only doing ab or core work. Clean up your diet if you want defined abs. Learn that and be open to proper, not popular, training.
Stability training will burn more calories and better prepare you for your other exercises.
Use exercises where the spine does not move. Paloff presses and body saws are just a few of the hundreds of core stabilization exercises that would be more beneficial to train with than traditional “ab” work.
Revamp your core training for your health and optimal performance.