Increasing your core value: You need more than strong abs to keep your body at its best | by Sally Wadyka

Greenwood Athletic Club

Posted on Fri, Jan 31, 2014

There comes a time when flaunting six-pack abs loses priority, but that’s no excuse to let your stomach muscles go. In fact, it’s more important than ever, as we age, to build a strong core.

Shaun Cook, personal trainer

Shaun Cook, certified personal trainer and performance enhancement specialist

“The core really comprises the entire torso—including all of the muscles from the pelvis up to the base of the neck,” says Shaun Cook, a trainer at Greenwood Athletic and Tennis Club. “And the main function of the core muscles is to support and stabilize the spine and pelvis during dynamic movement.”

In other words, without a strong core, you’ll find yourself having trouble with everyday activities—like lifting a suitcase into an airplane’s overhead bin, running to catch a bus, or hauling grocery bags out of a trunk. “If the core is weak—even if you have strong legs and arms—your body won’t be able to transfer energy properly to perform those movements,” Cook says.

A stronger base results in a more fit and functional body. But working the core means taking your gym routine beyond basic abdominal crunches. “The human body needs to work as a unit, so you don’t want to just focus on isolated movements,” Cook says. Instead, try these moves designed to work the core as one piece.

Cable Bracing1. Cable bracing

This exercise is deceptively difficult—it might look like you’re not doing much, but performed correctly, the resistance will help fire every muscle in the trunk simultaneously. Stand with your back straight, legs slightly bent, and pull a cable out so that your arms are fully extended as you hold the handle centered directly in front of you at chest height. Hold—without letting the weight turn or move your torso—for 20 to 30 seconds. Turn around and do the same move on the other side to finish one set. Aim for two to three sets.

Side Plank2. Side plank variation:

Lie down in a side plank position, leaning on your left elbow and forearm, hips lifted. With your right hand, grab a cable, pull it in toward your chest and hold it there, while you hold the plank position, for 20 to 40 seconds. Repeat on the other side to complete one set. Aim for two to three sets. If you can easily hold it for 60 seconds or more, increase the amount of weight on the cable.

Abdominal Saws3. Abdominal saws

Get in a standard plank position, back straight, hips lifted, weight resting on elbows and forearms. Put a folded up towel under your toes. Without losing your strong plank form, use your core muscles to slide your toes back slightly (your arms will also straighten a little bit), and then forward again to your original position. Repeat 10 to 20 times. Aim for two to three sets.

Farmer Walk4. Farmer walks

This is another move that looks easier than it is. All you are doing is walking, but you are doing it while holding heavy dumbbells in both hands (you’ll know they’re heavy enough if your grip is sore by the end of the walk). With a weight in each hand, arms by your sides, take short, quick steps about the distance of half a basketball court and back again. Rest, then repeat. Aim for two to four times. If you feel like you could walk further, increase the amount of weight you’re carrying.

Tags: , ,

Leave a Comment

Please be respectful while leaving comments. All comments are subject to removal by the moderator.

Your Comment: