Contrary to popular belief, your “abs” and your “core” are not one and the same. Your abdominal muscles which you’re probably more familiar with, are the superficial ones that give you that coveted six pack look and are primarily worked by flexing the spine. Think sit ups and crunches. However, the CORE includes all of those abdominal muscles in addition to the all of the muscles of the pelvic girdle and lower back including the glutes. When the entire “core” works together, it has a corset effect and works primarily to stabilize the spine.
Having a strong CORE means that you will be able to move more efficiently and effectively, thereby improving your performance inside the gym, in a sporting arena and in everyday life. It will also help alleviate back pain and protect against future injury in addition to helping you look good naked!
To train the core in it’s entirety, you need to include a variety of exercises that address all the key components – flexing the spine, extending the spine (back extension and reverse hyperextension variations), extending the hips (glute bridges and hip thrust variations), twisting/rotating the torso and holding the spine still.
My go-to exercises for females are what we term “anti extension”. In layman’s terms this just means “bracing the spine”. Think plank variations (check out our plank variation video here), and exercises that require you to keep the spine in a neutral position while the arms and legs are moving. These exercises not only transfer really well into being functional for everyday life, but I find the Pilates cue to “draw the bellybutton to the spine” really effective when it comes to creating that flat stomach look.
Now that you understand how to create that strong and sexy waistline, you now need to learn how to uncover it. We now know that excess baggage around the mid-section is associated with elevated levels of Cortisol, the stress hormone. Stress isn’t just crazy work deadlines, family commitments and being stuck in rush hour traffic. It also includes physical stressors such as food intolerance’s, digestive issues, poor quality sleep, dehydration, having too much coffee and over-training or under-recovering.
You can learn to work with your body, not against it by making simple lifestyle changes for an immediate impact.
- Test for food intolerances. Just because a food is “healthy” doesn’t mean it’s healthy for you. If it doesn’t make you feel good, don’t eat it! Some of the most common intolerance’s include eggs, gluten, wheat, dairy, soy, corn and nuts
- Support your digestion with a good quality probiotic, digestive enzyme, and plenty of fiber through cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts. Add sauerkraut to salads for a prebiotic benefit. A glass of warm water, lemon juice and raw apple cider vinegar is a great start to the day.
- Sleep more and sleep soundly. Your room should be a bat cave free of light, sound and electronic devices. Have an Epsom Salts bath.
- Try a gratitude list before bed where you can channel all the negativity of the day out of your head and onto paper.
- Avoid dehydration by filling up water bottles first thing in the morning, and taking them to work. Aim to make sure they are finished by end of play.
- Cut the CRAP – literally! Restrict your coffee to mornings or pre-workout only, and minimize refined sugars and processed foods
- Train smart not long. Stress puppies achieve better fatloss results using a combination of weight training, and high intensity interval training, instead of long sustained cardio. Aim to be in and out of the gym within 45 minutes. Balance out hard training with recovery practices like yoga or passive meditation.
- Assist your body in lowering cortisol, promoting rest and reducing inflammation by incorporating natural supplementation such as Vitamin C, Rhodiola, Magnesium and Omega 3 oils.