Issue #175


by Juan Carlos Lopez

20 Questions with Cover Model Mindy Muylaert

Mindy Muylaert, Shelby Talon, Robyn Kimsey, Ana Da Oliveira & Amie Adcock

Train Your Core Not Your Abs! by Tina Jo Orban

Video Interview with Cover Model Mindy Muylaert


Train Your Core Not Your Abs! by Tina Jo Orban

It's that season again. Summer: Swimsuits and Swim-trunks. And just about everyone is concerned with their midsection. Especially coming on the heels of Covid’s three months of hibernation in our nation. We all want lean midsections.  I too am guilty of jumping on the abs band wagon. I wrote an article maybe five years back titled, “Ripped and Ready Summer Abs.”  But we have come along way baby. It is true people still love the aesthetic of ripped lean abdominals, however this look does not translate into a strong core. Part of your axial skeleton musculature includes the front and back of your mid section. Your core is all the of your trunk muscles that stabilize and provide mobility there. That is your core. Think abdominal wall muscles: External Obliques, Internal Obliques, Rectus Abdominis and Transverse Abdominis. By the way, it is the rectus abdominis that is intersected by tendons and bisected down the middle by the line alba that give it the six-pack or eight pack look!
For the posterior core:  Iliacus, Psoas major, Psoas minor, Quadratus Lumborum. Let me break that down. Most trainers don’t isolate iliac minor. So we just have the Iliopsoas (Iliacus and psoas merge) and QL really. And for the more superficial trunk muscles, I would like to add Erectors Spinae to that group! I realize that technically (anatomists) would not consider this core, but I do! And the reason is low-back support relies certainly on strong abdominal wall muscles— but also conditioned low back muscles. The three Erector Spinae muscles of the back: Iliocostalis, Longissimus, and Spinalis. I personally include these in working my core. And you may not read this anywhere else. Look at this link and you will see why.
To recap ‘core’ muscles exist between the distal (bottom) of rib cage to the proximal (top) of Pelvic girdle (hip bones). This includes the front and back side of your body! A strong core gives you good posture. It distributes weight loads better to prevent taxing your low-back. It does so when lifting, doing chores or just doing ADL’s (activities of daily life). Thus having a strong core —all the muscles of your trunk can help your posture and prevent back pain. Also, it allows your appendages (arms and legs to perform heavier lifts—than you would if it were weak). Therefore a stronger core allows you to lift heavier weights: results better gains. The reason for this is that your trunk becomes muscles of stabilization when you lift, squat or lunge or do a bicep curl for that matter. Think of the weakest link concept. Your only as strong as your core.
This is why a strong core is so important. Sure ripped abs—they are nice— but a strong stable midsection is what you want. By the way if you create a strong core, and you shed some body fat, you will see your abs. The trick is eating enough to fuel your workouts and body but drop some fat. You can achieve this either by cutting calories (only if you over consume for your metabolic rate) or up your exercise. We all know by now fat burning exercise is repetitive long periods of movement (rowing power-walking, jogging) while maintaining a lower heart rate training zone (NOT HIIT). That is the Karvonen formula is still effective to determine percent of MHR. You can train 60-75% of MHR for fat burning. And minimum of 20 minutes up to an hour is ideal to burn fat.
Lets get back to building your core. So how do you train your core? Well, its not just crunches and sit-ups or hanging leg raises. And sit-ups mainly work the hip-flexors anyhow. Did you know that?

Here is a great little CORE BLAST WORKOUT:
Four Sets 15 reps 1-2 minute rests. This link is a good example of full extension.
This works mainly the ‘posterior core’: Erectors (muscles of the spine) QL, (ancillary hams and gluteals). You can add weight to hyperextensions by grabbing a dumbbell or plate and hold it at your chest (see image)
*Alternatively if you have no equipment: In a prone position with stomach on the floor on a mat preferably arch your head neck and torso and legs up. Some call it the Superman
Four Sets 15 reps 1-2 minute rests.

WoodChoppers with Cables or Dumbbells
Four Sets 15 reps 1-2 minute rests.
This works all of the core.

Weighted Side Bends
*You can use plate, dumbbell, kettlebell, cable.
Four Sets 15 reps 1-2 minute rests.

Weighted Crunches with cable or plate
Four Sets 20-25 reps 1-2 minute rests.

You could pair this core work out with a 30 minute aerobic training session —up to one hour for a fat blasting aerobic workout. This can help you see your core particularly the rectus abdominis and give the look of a strong midsection. But let us not lose sight a strong core is more than just the appearance of  ripped-abs.




Toni Orban CMT.


Back to Issues


© 2004-2018 HardFitness Design All right reserved.