Whenever we hear the word “core,” somehow it prompts a big red sign that asks, “DID YOU MEAN ‘ABS’?”
If you’ve taken a look at fitness programs before, then you probably know what we’re talking about when we say that many of them focus on “rock-hard abs.” Because of this stigma, many people think the secret to a well-developed core means grinding out hundreds of crunches and sit-ups.
We know you’d like to forget it already, but remember when your P.E. coach would force you to race against your classmates on how many sit-ups you can do? Well, you’ve been conditioned to think that it’s what’s important to make your core strong.
Of course, we’re not saying that those exercises are completely useless, core strength is about so much more than what you can see under a shirt. An actual core should not only be about aesthetics, but it should also improve movement, power, stability, and balance. If you feel some kind of pain on your back, you’re probably doing it wrong, and those ‘ab machines’ don’t actually work either.
Your traditional sit-up exercises only work a handful of core muscles, and leave the other ignored and underdeveloped. When you go hard on your crunches in search of that #sixpack, you may actually be undoing other gains. Harvard Research advises that it’s unwise to aim all your efforts at developing those dreamy rippling abs. Overtraining abdominal muscles while snubbing muscles in the back and hip can actually set you up for injuries and may hinder your athletic prowess.
There’s this thing called “functional training” where you incorporate some simple but effective movements to work on the muscles and joints you need to live a healthier more active life. Instead of trying to look good, you should work on making yourself feel good beyond aesthetics. To give you a headstart, these moves include your standard planks, side planks, rollouts, walking lunches, and mountain climbers. Some of them may take more energy, but it will be worth it in the end.
For example, you’re on the bench, or doing some dips, working like crazy for international chest day. Whatever you do, don’t let your body go dead from the waist down. Instead, brace your core with every rep you do on the bench so you can stabilize yourself and move the pressure to your abdomen.
Always remember to keep this mind-muscle connection during every workout, and before you know it, working on your core won’t sound like a tough chore anymore.