How to Get Your Core Lean

We all want a leaner looking waistline. That’s a good thing. Core development should be about aesthetics yes, but it’s also  about much more!  Last week’s article should have sparked several more motivational reasons for obtaining a stronger core.

Go to http://bodysmartinc.com/?p=2095  to get up to date on how a functional strong core not only aesthetically enhances one’s body shape, but also improves daily living mobility in routine tasks such as gardening and picking up the grand kids, to better posture and balance, to improved back mobility and decreased back pain, to more power and agility in athletic play.

There’s a funny story I like to tell about the core. A 325 pound linebacker walks into a gym and after a warm up begins squatting with an 850 lb bar setting on top of his back. A new to the fitness scene guy walks into the gym that day, sees him squatting and wonders if he can do the same exercise as this 325 pound linebacker. “Smartly,” he realizes he should start with a “lighter weight” so he stacks the bar to 425 lbs and proceeds to go down into the squat position with the weight on his back. As he goes down to squat with the weight on his back, his whole body collapses to the floor. He looks up to see if he can get help, but no one is around. He loses consciousness for a brief moment and within seconds afterwards he observes that many of his friends are surrounding him saying, “What are you doing? You are crazy!”  Your big belly is not strong enough to lift that heavy weight! Not understanding, the new to the fitness scene guy looks at them totally confused and sighs, saying, “I was not trying to lift the weight with my belly! I was trying to lift it with my legs!” His friends rolling their eyes sigh, and grudgingly help him up.

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What is The Point?
Our legs, our arms, our backs and our chest are only as strong as our core. Only when the core is strong can the body get stronger. We are limited by the strength of our core in further enhancing our muscular strength, our muscular power (women not excluded) and our general daily energy stores.

Making Sense
If you are one of my new clients, you probably have noticed that I am a big believer in using the machine weights for general body strengthening. Anyone new to fitness or who has been out of fitness for a year or two or longer, I place into my 12 week strengthening jump start strength machine program.  This program progressively conditions and strengthens all the major muscle groups of the body while simultaneously working the core muscles functionally.

Some trainers suggest that machines for strength training are non functional in building core stability because of the back support on most strength machines, but if we consider  that the core structures of the abdominal wall are being stressed just enough to manage the new weight then the core is actually being enhanced functionally as the weight increases.  By managing this aspect well, that is increasing the weight smartly and having the person stabilize the core as they press the weight, over the 12 week period of time, the client becomes stronger not just in the individual muscles but in the core stabilizing muscles as well.

Bottom Line
Don’t let all the information on strength training confuse you. Get into a solid 12 week program that includes 8-12 machines and progress it incrementally. The additional nuances of training with free weights and body weight can come later. Get your core strong by getting your muscles strong using the progressive overload technique and practicing core stabilization when lifting weights.  You may find additional information on a beginner’s strength program at http://bodysmartinc.com/?p=246. There you will find a comprehensive program for beginners or for those people that have been out of the fitness realm recently.

Last Week’s Get Rid of The Squish in the Middle Tip:
Eliminate bread of any kind. Including whole grain bread!

This Week’s Get Rid of the Squish in the Middle Tip:
Get you carbohydrates mainly from low glycemic fresh vegetables. Think 5 vegetables raw daily and 4 vegetables steamed daily. Roast vegetables sparingly.

Next week, look for core conditioning for the more advanced fitness person including specific targeted exercises,  as well as an explanation on why you can have a strong core, but not visually see the results of all your hard work! One hint – it’s not about shedding abdominal fat through increased cardio training!