Back in the day, 6-pack abs was the goal. Now it’s all about the core baby.
Many people think the core is just the front of your abdominals. You know, the ones you can see if you possess a 6 pack. In fact, the core is a network of muscles located around the lower spine, pelvis and hips forming what is known by health and fitness professionals as a muscular “corset”.’
When working out in a class or following a video you may hear an instructor tell you to “activate your core”. But do you know what that really means?
So here’s a practical exercise for you to do. Right now. Without even breaking a sweat.
- Stand up
- For grins, roll your shoulders up and down behind you and stand with your feet 6 inches apart (good posture is always important)
- Now inhale slowly and as you do slightly suck in your belly button – imagine you are pulling it towards your spine.
- At the top of your inhale pause for a beat and while keeping your belly button tucked up and in, exhale.
Are you still tucked in? Great job. You’ve activated your core.
If you’re struggling with the visual cue or physical sensation here’s another tip.
Imagine you are zipping or buttoning up a very cute, but very snug pair of skinny jeans. You know how it feels when you suck in to fasten them? And you know how it feels when you’re in them and you can breathe but your belly is restricted by the fabric? Yes. That.
And that matters why??
So say you’re doing a plank exercise. You’re on your hands or forearms and feel your lower back twinging. If you were to look sideways in a mirror or down towards your feet I bet you dollars to um, donuts that your belly is completely relaxed and dropping down to the ground. No judgement. Your core isn’t engaged.
Now, let’s try it my way. Get into a plank. Lift your belly button up and in. Gently. Focus on simply keeping it all in. Wait, remember to breathe. Now check yourself out. Better, right?
You are engaging or activating your core thereby supporting your lower back and building strength in your trunk.
And while sucking in your belly isn’t going to miraculously shrink your middle. Strengthening your “corset” will improve your posture provide greater lower back support, greater stability, and you’ll be better able to do everyday tasks such as twisting, carrying, reaching, and a host of other benefits!
Try engaging your core a few times a day. When standing in line at Peet’s, while you’re sitting in your chair at work, or on your morning walk. Remember, practice makes permanent.
Now go run!