Everything you need to know about your core
I love that the fitness industry is slowly pivoting away from only idolising “skinny” bodies and is beginning to celebrate all body types and beautiful women! However, a lot of girls still come to me asking “how do I get a visible 6 pack?”. I’m sorry to break it to you, girls, but this doesn’t come from doing hundreds of sit-ups and planks everyday. The truth of the matter is that the visibility of your abs is dependent on factors that aren’t necessarily related to how often you train them. These include; genetics and body fat percentage. However, with the correct methods you can get strong AF, drop body fat and get those abdominal muscles burning! My programs have been specifically designed to tighten your waist and build feminine curves!
While there is nothing wrong with training your core in isolation for aesthetics, it is also important to have a full understanding of your core and what it is actually there for. As with all things - knowledge is power! This blog will take you babes through the main functions of the core muscles and why you should be training them.
Function of the Abdominal Muscles
The primary function of our abdominal muscles is not to look good, but rather keep our body safe and strong. Your core muscles are made up of internal and external oblique, transversus abdominis and rectus abdominis as well as your erector spinae. All of these muscles serve a purpose and strengthening them correctly will contribute to improving your balance, relieve strain on your other muscles in day-to-day life, and help you in executing your exercises with proper form!
Performing large compound exercises like squats and deadlifts requires a lot of core bracing strength. However, this does not mean that we can neglect training them separately! The exercises themselves will be stimulating the core muscles, as they are imperative to executing the squat and deadlift safely with correct technique. This is why you see some people wearing a lifting belt in the gym. The lifting belt increases the amount of abdominal pressure, and therefore allows you to brace tighter.
An important muscle group within your core that a lot of ladies tend to ignore is the erector spinae group. These are basically the muscles of your lower back. We think of our core not just as our abs, but our entire midsection (front and back).
So, how often do you need to train your core in isolation?
There is no set rule here. As long as you aren’t OVER training your core, causing an imbalance and delay in recovery. I would recommend two times per week, and ensuring that you are training it in various different ways. The different ways that you can train it include:
– Contracting. This means to contract and shorten the abdominal muscles, for example crunches or bicycles.
– Stretching. This means that your core is working it’s hardest in the stretched position. For example leg raises of ab rollouts.
– Bracing. This is when you are squeezing your core to maintain a position, but not necessarily moving the body. This technique is used when performing plank variations!
How to make those abs pop!
1. Reassess your body composition goals
As we all know, a calorie deficit and increased energy output will result in fat loss over a period of time. If you’re not currently in a fat loss phase, reassess your goals and consider what you want to do with your diet and training for the next period. As I mentioned earlier, body fat percentage and genetics play a large role in the visibility of abdominal muscles - this should not be what you are working towards all year round!
2. Take notice of how your body reacts to the foods you eat.
Certain foods may cause bloating and discomfort in the gut, which is not ideal when we are looking to make our abs pop! If I have a photoshoot, I will make sure I stick to foods that are easy to digest and that I respond well to (e.g. corn thins, egg whites). Everyone is different, so try to eat mindfully at your next meal and connect with how the foods are making you feel.
To sum it all up – no, you don’t have to train your abs exclusively everyday. You will use and strengthen your core muscles a lot when performing compound exercises. You can still target your abs outside of these movements by utilising variation in your exercises, ensuring you are working them in contracting, stretching and bracing positions.
The core of my philosophy (pun intended) is to empower as many women as possible through education on training, nutrition and mindset. I not only want you to have the tools, but also the knowledge for sustainable results and habits. No matter your walk of life or fitness level, there is a place for you at LSF! Take a look at my programs and join your global girl gang of thousands of #LSFbabes.