By Breanne Curran (Jasyoga friend and colleague!)
Ahhh, the core… a complex part of the body that seems to mystify us all. It houses all our power and yet is one of the hardest places to properly train to be strong and stable. First off, the core is not just abdominals, as many think. It includes your full trunk, and extends from your glutes to your shoulders. It also houses your spine, which is the motherboard of all our movements! It truly is your “center” and, in order to harness the true power of your core, you must focus on the deep stabilizing muscles. In doing so, you’ll begin to stand taller and really reach through the floor and to the sky — with vigor!
Looking for a firm, flat belly?
Increase your load (safely!), increase your cardio intensity, and take a good look at your diet! To get those Madonna abs, you’ve got to increase muscle for higher metabolism, and keep calories burning with lean foods (As an AADP Nutritionist and Health Coach, I can guide you there). It’s only then that you will truly “see” the work your core has been doing. But be careful! If you don’t focus on deep core work with stabilization and full body contraction, you will just be lean, with a bad back no visible “ab” muscles to show for all your hard work.
So how do you get great core strength? Move the body as a whole. Seriously, the biggest mistake people make when it comes to getting a toned belly and a stronger back is that they isolate muscles. You can do 1,000 crunches a day — and you might feel a “burn” of lactic acid from 1,0000 contractions — but you’ll be left with the same belly and most likely a sore back and neck.
How do I move as a whole, you ask? The human body has 600 different muscles — so start treating it as one muscle with 600 different compartments. Core activation is triggered from movements from your feet to the top of your head. So start thinking of your core like an apple core… the center of the body from top to bottom.
My top core training tips — move smarter, not harder!
- Gain core strength from stabilization moves like plank, which work great. Why? Because when you exert pressure from your extremities, your deep core stabilizes… automatically! The trick is using your whole body to support that plank. Remember, it’s about whole body movement!
- Strengthen the core by first working on your deep abdominal muscles, the deep guys surrounding your spine, while focusing on length so that you don’t compress your spine.
- Almost any yoga move that demands contraction with your feet into the floor, contraction between the thighs (adductors), and/or firmness and strength in the arms.
- Anti-rotation cable work that requires stabilizing the body and extending a resistance band or cable while not allowing the body to rotate will force your deep core to stabilize.
- Kettlebell swings, overhead presses, and deadlifts truly ignite the core. CAREFUL! Pay close attention to detail and always get a couple sessions from a pro before attempting these moves on your own.
Breanne Curran is a NSCA Certified Personal Trainer, AADP Holistic Health Coach, Nutrition Specialist, Functional Movement Specialist (FMS), a Hardstyle Kettlebell Coach (HKC), and yoga enthusiast. In other words, she’s your arsenal for a kick-ass body and eating habits you can brag about! Check out her Body Breakthrough weight loss program at the Magnusun Athletic Club (MAC). Learn more at www.breannetrains.com.