Thursday, September 20, 2018
Health

Engage the entire core, not just the abs

Are you tired of the same old crunches on the floor? Looking for a little more variety to spice up your ab workout?

Those of you who are not incorporating ab exercises into your exercise routine should be.

Why?

The abdominals are part of the team we call the core, which is composed of the muscles that support your spine, stabilizing your entire body. Other muscles of the core include the sides of the trunk, the pelvic floor muscles, the back, buttocks, hips and pelvis. The strength of these muscles is important.

There are frequent misconceptions about the abs and ab exercises.

Ab exercises won't remove "flab on the abs." You can't lose unwanted abdominal fat simply by attacking it with a vengeance, performing hundreds of ab exercises daily, and you can't "spot reduce," or lose body fat from a particular area. That's not how the body works. You could do 500 situps a day and still not lose the fat that sits atop a muscle.

To fight body fat, you need to target the many muscles that work together. An excellent way to do this is to combine cardio exercise (a "whole body" exercise) with strength training and, of course, a sensible diet. Even then, you cannot predict where fat loss will occur. Genetics will do that for you.

Traditional ab work on the floor is effective, but adding standing exercises that revolve around moving your body, using rotational and bending movements, brings a bonus: You will be engaging all the core muscles, not just your abs. And while your body moves in different planes of motion, which targets more muscle groups, you'll burn more calories.

Benefits

Posture: Often people have strength in their upper and lower bodies but are weak in the core. Weak core muscles encourage slouching.

Balance: Core muscles work together to help you move freely in any direction and stand in one place without falling.

Daily perks: Every movement we make involves the core. Lifting, bending, reaching and twisting can be painful if your core muscles are weak.

Back pain: Weak and unbalanced core muscles place a strain on the spine, causing lower back pain.

Sports: Any power movement required from the upper and lower body originates from the core, which is in the center of the body and acts as a link between the upper and lower body. Strong core muscles make it easier to swing a golf club, and they certainly will add power to your forehand or backhand shot in tennis.

Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program. Sally Anderson is happy to hear from readers but can't respond to individual inquiries. Contact her at [email protected]

 
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