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  • Richard McDonough

Co-Movement Gym: A is A Health Podcast S1E16 - Six Pack Abs and Core Strength (Try the challenge!)

Updated: Aug 16


Approximately 80% of people that say they want to work on their core strength generally mean they want to have abs, but having a strong core vs having abs is not the same thing. You can have a very strong core without visible abs, and likewise there are a lot of people who have abs that don’t necessarily have a strong core. The best core exercises are probably not the ones you are thinking of. Focusing on perfect form for squats, deadlifts, bent-over rows, split squats, lunges and many others with as heavy of a weight you can do for good form will develop your core strength more than core isolation movements.


Optimizing your diet is the number one way to have your abs show (if that is your goal). You also have to do some form of ab training to have visible abs once you diet and lose the fat around your midsection. While a lot of people think of the core as just your abs, there are actually a lot of muscles associated with the core and they are the transversus abdominis, muscles of the pelvic floor, oblique muscles, and the multifidus. Sometimes having too strong of a front core (or what people think of as the core) can cause lower back pain. This back pain can develop due to your front core muscles being stronger and tighter than the core muscles in your back (which causes an imbalance). Focusing on strengthening all of your core muscles is important to reduce imbalances and possible injuries/pain.


Sometimes people have difficulty engaging their core even though they have the strength. Normally the best way to help you engage/gain core awareness is to either lower the weight on certain exercises or try more basic movements which engage the core in a similar fashion. The easiest way to tell if you have a weak core is by checking the neutral spine position during the pushup. A couple other ways to determine if you have a weak core is checking to see if you are overarching during the deadlift, and/or leaning too far forward during a squat. The core actually helps you to stabilize and helps to prevent unwanted movement during a lot of different exercises like rounding of the back and keeping your spine in a flat neutral position. Your core can also help keep you from bending side to side, and even too far forward during some exercises. Essentially the cores main purpose is to stabilize the spine. The core is very important for preventing injury in everyday life.


List of functions from having a strong core:

1. Better Posture

2. Increases balance

3. Protects your organs

4. Makes every day activities easier

5. Prevent injuries

6. Increase performance


Some of our Favorite Core Isolation exercises:

1. Weighted in-and-outs

2. Weighted incline sit-ups

3. Toes to bar

4. Turkish get-ups (especially the first portion)

5. L-sit variations

6. Back extensions with weight

7. Different variations of the plank


Note: A couple of good exercises to learn how to engage your core are In-and-Outs or Physio ball knee tuck planks.


Try the challenge:

· Level 1 Hanging Knee Raise Hold 15 seconds- 10 pts

· Level 2 Side Bridge 60 seconds per side- 10 pts

· Level 3 Hanging L-sit 15 seconds with locked legs- 10 pts

· Level 4 Strict Knees to Elbows with bent arms- 5 Repetitions-10 pts

· Level 5- Strict Toes to Bar with locked legs and arms- 5 Repetitions- 10pts


How well did you score?


Sources:

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/abdominal-muscles

https://www.byrdie.com/benefits-of-a-strong-core-5189502

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