Why you Shouldn’t do Core Strength Exercises

Abdominal machines, 7 min ab workouts and programs sold on daytime TV to stay at home mums have been the biggest thieving rip off and single biggest bullshit ever sold to the general public by the fitness industry over the last couple of decades. The media and the promotion of these programs and products have falsely mislead people to believing doing crunches and ab twists will give them a 6 pack or make them lose fat from their stomach.

Being able to see your 6 pack abdominals comes down to one thing and one thing only. Having a a really low percent body fat. Unless guys you have a body fat of 10% or under and ladies 15% or under, you won’t be able to visually see any abs. A low percent body fat is achieved through consistently being in a caloric deficit. The strength of your abdominals or the amount of crunches you do a week has absolutely nothing to do with how your mid section looks and if you can see your abs.

Even if you do have a really low % body fat, the amount of abdominal work that you do will have relatively nothing to do with how your abdominals look. Abdominals are a very small muscle and no matter how much you train them, they will hardly grow. The amount of abdominal training you do or your abdominal strength doesn’t directly improve the appearance of your waistline.

The reason you would include abdominal training and core strength is for back health. A strong core is the foundation for a powerful, athletic and healthy body. Correct activation of your core is paramount for good technique when it comes to strength training. Good technique will optimise your results and reduce your chances of injury. If you have a weak core and struggle to stabilise your spine you leave yourself open to sheer forces on the joints that can lead to damage, pain, injury and can limit your strength which limits results.

How to Train Your Core

Firstly, you need to learn how to activate your core. Whilst lying on your back, imagine having a piece of sting tied to your belly button and as you exhale, the string is gently being pulled down towards the ground beneath you. When you inhale, try and hold onto this contraction. With each exhale, try and tighten the contraction as you imagine the string pulling on your belly button. These are the deep core muscles (transversus abdominals) that you want to activate during strength training.

The next step is to challenge your core to be able to hold the rigidity against a resistance. Thats the role of your core, to limit excessive movement in any direction. A plank hold for example has the added resistance from gravity pushing down on your mid section. Core strength is required to keep your mid section from dropping to the floor. When you squat with a barbell on your back, its the role of the core to keep your body rigid and prevent your spine from flexing with the weight.

You shouldn’t do core strength exercises because your goal is a 6 pack. Core strength exercises will help you develop a strong and healthy body and ensure optimal training potential and longevity but they will not directly improve your appearance by giving you a 6 pack or less belly fat.

Luke Wardle is an Exercise Scientist and Director of Legion Fitness Living.

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