No doubt about it, one of your exercise goals is to probably have flat, beautiful abdominals and a nice strong core for daily living, looking good, and/or sports performance. Maybe rock a 6-pack! Umm…who doesn’t have this goal or dream? I mean it is the way we are supposed to look like right? At least from the media’s perspective, it is.
While Sexy sells, a more important goal is to have a strong core and a side affect of having a strong core is that yes, you will have a better looking midsection.
If your goal is to have a nice strong core, you certainly can make your dreams a reality. Here is how: by practicing exercises that target the “many” muscles that make up your core and “at the same” time, pursuing a cardio program (can be walking), drinking lots and lots of water, making wise and healthy food choices and definately cutting down on your sodium intake.
Muscles of the CORE (think Torso) – I’ll highlight a few.
(One of the things that I’ve learned over the years when it comes to fitness is that is extremely helpful to sort of know those muscles and how they work so that you can exercise them effectively).
1. Guess what? The core actually consists of way more muscles than that of the “Rectus Abdominis.” Yes, its true! However; it seems that people don’t know that because you regularly can see and hear about people who do or brag about doing HUNDREDS of crunches a day. And while yes, a crunch does target the rectus abdominis muscle (nicknamed the 6-pack muscle) and probably the most targeted and worked muscle in the core. Just targeting this one muscle is not smart! It can lead to an over worked/over trained syndrome and contribute towards hunch back. Who wants that? Not good!
2. You also have “Internal and External Obliques.” These muscles are responsible for rotating your torso so any rotation or twisting exercise will use them.
3. The “Transverse Abdominus” is a deep abdominal muscle that I like to describe as your “internal corset.” If you lay on your back with your hands on your belly between your ribs and pelvis and then cough, you’ll feel this muscle engage. This muscle is really used during breathing.
4. The “Serratus Anterior” is your rib cage muscle. Do an elbow plank or the yoga crocodile (AKA Chaturanga) pose and you’ll feel this muscle working.
5. In your hip area, there are the “Iliopsoas, the Iliascus, and the Psoas” muscles. Think hip flexors.
6. And then on your backside, you also have lots of muscles. Along your spine is the “Erector Spinae.” Your upper back has that nice V-shaped muscle called the “Latissimus Dorsi.” Oh, there are more muscles in your back too but I thought I’d highlight those.
7. In your butt, you have the “Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Medius, and Gluteus Minimus.” Collectively called the “Glutes.”
8. And guess what, your pelvic floor is part of your core too. In yoga, you might hear to enage in “Mula Bandha” which is contracting your muscles down there like stopping the flow of urine. Layman’s Terms: Ladies you know about those Kegal Exercises and men might know about Lifting the Family Jewels.
Now Exercise that “Entire” Core at the “Same” Time:
So now that you have an idea as to what the core actually is, let’s think of some exercises that strengthen/target the core nicely and collectively as a whole. Below are some SUPERSTARS!
1. Plank and its numerous variations and equipment to help up the challenge (stability ball, BOSU, light weights…)/ Yoga Crocodile or Chaturanga Pose
2. Side Plank and its variations
3. Pilates 100 and its variations
4. Yoga Boat Pose/ Pilates Teaser/ V-Ups
5. Pilates Double Leg Stretch
6. Bicycle Crunch / Pilates Criss Cross
7. Bridge Exercise /Yoga Bridge Pose
8. Stability Ball Roll Ins or Inverted Pikes/ Pilates Reformer “Elephant”
9. Superman/ Yoga Locust Pose
10. Side Bends
As you have noticed, I listed 10 but also placed/grouped similiar exercises that you’ll find in the Pilates and Yoga disciplines. (This may help you visualize the exercises). The nice thing about both Yoga and Pilates is that you are targeting the Core the ENTIRE time you are doing it! So do more yoga and Pilates and soon you’ll notice favorable results in your midsection.
Wishing you Coremazing results!