More than just a CORE workout!
First there is so much more to the core than the exercises. I find more success with maintaining a good core with diet, stress management (See my blog post “Improve sleep, eliminate stress & recover like a bad ass), and intermittent fasting then I do with the exercises. However, all are necessary to keep that midsection toned up and in shape! I am going to share what works for me and what I have seen to work for others through my 15 year wellness journey, college education, personal training, weight management coach and well, you get the idea.
First and foremost, no amount of crunches alone will get you a flat stomach. Period. End of story. You can go out and do 10,000 crunches everyday but I’m sorry my friends, that will just not work. The truth hurts but that is the truth!
Above I mentioned sleep and stress in relation to core and some of you are probably wondering what that has to do with anything!? Well, if you don’t get adequate sleep or manage your stress levels your body produces more cortisol aka the stress hormone. Too much of this in the body can cause inflammation and also affect the way your body processes carbs, fat and protein. Once again, check out my post and tips on how to manage stress levels and get good sleep. This can make a world of difference!
Now back to the core specifically. I am going to break this down by 2 things with tips and suggestions in regards to diet and exercises.
Disclaimer: Not everything I say in this post will work for everyone. You are your best doctor. Listen to your body and make healthy decisions that lean you into the right direction you want to go. Update: I’m still not a doctor but do know my sh*t.
Get it right, get it tight (Diet, that is)
I’m sure everyone has heard the saying “Abs are made in the kitchen.” And that is 100% true. Everyone has abdominal muscles. How to flatten up the tummy or expose them is by eliminating or minimizing the layer of fat that covers them which can be done with some simple diet tweaks.
To be clear and quite frank, my blog is about all things Wellness sprinkled in with sobriety sprinkled in with mindset sprinkled in with Sam’s favorite wellness hacks that actually work. I support the person, the individual and their own personal wellness journey. The purpose of this post is to help as many people as possible feel comfortable in their own skin and their own mind. This is not to say everyone should have abs or everyone should be a size 0. No no no!
First and foremost, wellness starts with the mind. The body is secondary. You can be extremely fit and in shape but if you have a terrible relationship with food – that isn’t healthy either. Health means different things to different people and should result in happiness.
If you want to lose weight to be healthier? Awesome! Here to help. If you want to improve your sleeping cycles and practice mediation? Let’s do this! If you want to add on muscle and gain some weight? I can help there too! The point is there is no cookie cutter format to health. Compare yourself to the person you see in the mirror and practice self-care and self-love and the skies the limit.
Now, back to improving the core...
Food + Hydration
The foods I’ve found worst for the stomach are carbs, sugar, gluten and dairy. If you start eating most of your meals with protein, healthy fats and veggies you will notice the tummy tighten up! This goes without fail. Every time I cut these down it’s easier to maintain a tighter stomach. When I have carbs it’s typically after I exercise or do a heavy lift and I try and keep them gluten free. Yes, I do eat gluten but it’s more of a treat than a regular thing. The reason being is a few years ago I did a food allergy test that said I was sensitive to gluten. Recently I did another one and it came back A-Okay. I notice when I eat less of it my stomach is tighter and I have more energy. Perspective, when I think of gluten I think of noodles. It’s the substance in noodles that causes them to expand and that’s exactly what it does to the stomach!
There is no magic bullet. There is never a magic bullet. I encourage anyone and everyone to STOP looking for one. It takes consistency and discipline. Try some of these tips and tricks out and pay attention to how your body responds – HINT: the most important part! You should always take it gradual and implement one thing at a time. This will ensure sustainability.
This is just a random tid bit but hydration is critical. Often time people mistake their hunger because they are thirsty. That is why before I have anything in the morning, I am making sure to chug some water and continue to hydrate with water throughout the day! Proper hydration is important for many things so staying on top of it, if you lack in that area, would be a great thing to start with.
When I work out my core 3 times / week I keep it super simple and don’t overcook it. Remember, several things affect the core not just the exercises you do. I work to hit the upper, the lower, the obliques (sides) and lastly the transverse abdominis (deepest part of the ab muscles). I always try and make sure one of these exercises are weighted. I will break it down for you into 3 workouts to be performed 3 days / week. If you can’t visualize these exercises, google helps ;)
Workout 1 - 4 Total Rounds
Upper Abs – Decline bench sit ups 4 sets of 15
Lower Abs – Hang feet off the bench and raise them up (add weight between your feet, optional) 4 sets of 15
Obliques – Weighted oblique dips. Grab 2 dumbbells, stand up straight and alternate lowering 1 side down to your knee while you bring the other side up. Alternate and do 15 each side.
Transverse – Planks. 4 sets of 1 minute (to make it harder, add weight on top of lower back)
Workout 2 - 4 Total Rounds
Upper Abs – Floor crunches with weight held at chest 4 sets of 15
Lower Abs – Hold on to pull up bar and do leg raises (modify if unable to grasp pull up bar) 4 sets of 10
Obliques – Back on the floor side reaches 4 sets of 15
Transverse – Heavy cable crunches with rope 4 sets of 8-10
Workout 3 - 4 Total Rounds
Upper and Lower Abs – Hands to feet. Lay flat on the ground and bring your hands to your feet. 4 sets of 20
Obliques – Side planks 4 sets of 45 seconds on each side.
Transverse – Planks. 4 sets of 30 seconds. This is just to fatigue the abs. Immediately after the 30 seconds are up, flip over on your back and do 30 crunches. This will BURN!!!!!
Hope this information helps!! I tend to provide a lot at one time. If you want to make that change, implement one thing at a time, create the habit in your life and then add another one. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT AND I’VE PROBABLY MENTIONED IT 100 TIMES AND WILL CONTINUE TO DO SO! J Practicing that behavior will help you be more successful. If you try to do too many things at once this is a big lifestyle change and could result in failure altogether. Think long-term and remind yourself you are a bad ass and that YOU GOT THIS!
What are some of your favorites core exercises?
What other things to do you want to see in regards to fitness (email me at firstname.lastname@example.org !!!)