I posted this article on my other site, StrengthRunner.com
It all starts at the “core!” Eight years ago I was 30lbs heavier and had pretty serious back issues. I was in my kitchen one day and sneezed and it threw my back out. I had trouble walking for almost two months and spent countless visits at the chiropractor. Sound familiar? It is – so many people have back issues that start at the core. Ever since I lost the weight and began doing regular core exercises, I have not had any back pain.
Your core is much more than your abdominal muscles and your obliques. Your core also includes the muscles of your lower back, pelvis, hips and diaphragm. Strengthening your core will not only help with back issues and improve your physical appearance, but you will feel stronger, breathe better, be healthier and your abs will start showing! Plus, core stability will help prevent all sorts of other injuries.
There is no secret to getting a six pack – it does take hard work, but here are some great tips which helped me and can help you get that shredded stomach, chiseled obliques – and build a strong core!
Crunches – yes the age old crunch. It’s a great warm up exercise for the core. Once they get too easy add weight. Holding a 10, 25 or 45lb plate with your arms extended over your chest while crunching will work. I usually do 2 sets of 50 at the beginning of every workout.
Ab-Wheel– I first saw one of these in my dad’s room over 30 years ago and it still works. Starting on your knees with your arms almost locked out, you extend by rolling the wheel out as far as you can go and then back again. This exercise works your arms, shoulders, back and abs. I almost touch my nose to the floor when fully extended. You may not be able to go that deep until you develop the strength.
Rowing – If you have access to a rower, use it! The rower or “erg” engages the core while working your arms, back, heart and lungs. Is it easy? No. Does it work? Yes!
Olympic Lifts– Squats, cleans, snatches, jerks, push presses ALL engage the core muscles. Ever hear someone at the gym say that your whole body gets stronger from squatting? It’s true for all of these exercises because they all use your core and are functional exercises. *These are more advanced exercises that should not be attempted without proper instruction or supervision.
Clean Eating– Yes, what you put into your body is just as important as the exercises you are doing to strengthen it. See my previous article on “Eating Clean.” The best line I've ever seen on eating properly is from Coach Greg Glassman, the creator of CrossFit – “Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.” Is it a diet? No. It’s clean eating and if you make it a lifestyle rather than thinking of it as a diet you will lose weight and those abs will show!