I'd be lying if I told you I didn't train my core. I do it for vanity, but most importantly, I do it for strength and stability. Vanity aside, one of the reasons I revamped my ab routine was because of lower-back pain. I've been an athlete all of my life and take pride in being a healthy person. Back pain clearly didn't fit into that equation, so I sought out experts to help eliminate the problem. After speaking with a physical therapist and a sports chiropractor, they both came to the conclusion that I first needed to strengthen my core, specifically the muscles that help stabilize the back.
With all this talk surrounding the core, what exactly is it? Your core is comprised of the rectus abdominis, erector spinae, internal and external obliques, multifidus, and the transverse abdominis muscles. The core muscles (get it?) help you with everyday activities like walking, twisting, bending, and tying your shoes. Your core — especially a strong one — helps you with more athletic feats like lifting weights and being able to sprint faster.
As a trainer, it's my job to educate people about their bodies, so here's one of the top things I like to share with people. Your "six-pack," aka your rectus abdominis, is what I refer to as your "superficial core." It may look good, but it doesn't necessarily indicate that you have a strong core. Your transverse abdominis muscles are your deep core muscles often referred to as a "girdle" that extend from your ribs to your pelvis, wrapping around to your spine. Fun fact: these are also the muscles recruited when pushing during labor.
With all that being said, here's one of my favorite core routines for a chiseled midsection. Disclaimer: they're a lot harder than they look.
Here's how to do each move:
Double Leg Lifts With Yoga Block
- Get a yoga block and lay flat on the ground with your legs extended straight up toward the ceiling. Position the yoga block lengthwise in your hands and extend your arms above your head.
- Pressing your lower back into the ground and actively pressing into the yoga block, slowly lower both legs down toward the floor, then slowly raise them back up. If this is too difficult, lower them as much as you can or lower one leg at a time.
- Complete 10 reps.
Kneeling Dumbbell Pullover
- Grab a medium-weight dumbbell and kneel on the ground in an upright position with your knees directly underneath your hips. The dumbbell should be at your thighs.
- Slowly raise both arms, lifting the dumbbell overhead, then slowly lower your arms back down.
- Complete 10 reps.
Kettlebell Around-the-Body Pass
- Start standing tall with your feet about hips-width distance apart and a medium-weight kettlebell in hand.
- Keeping the kettlebell as close to your body as possible, begin to pass it clockwise around your body.
- Complete 10 reps going clockwise and 10 reps going counterclockwise.
- Complete the circuit for a total of two to three times.