One of the biggest misconceptions in the fitness world is the confusion between abs & core. One and the same? Not at all. Your ABS or, specifically, the rectus abdominis is the muscle that is responsible for creating the superficial sought after six pack look. The abs are primarily worked when the spine flexes forward and sidewards - exercises you are probably most familiar with would be sit ups and crunches. These common exercises are not the safest or most efficient to create your desired flat tummy look… read on to find out more!
The CORE on the other hand, is made up of all of your abdominal muscles including the obliques, plus all the back muscles. Your core is activated when we move our bodies – whether it be running, jumping, pushing or pulling. When your core works optimally, it has the ultimate corset like effect of stabilising your spine.
Focusing on building a strong and stable core means that you will be able to move more efficiently, improve your performance in the gym and in your general everyday life. It can also help alleviate back pain and protect against future injury in addition to helping you look good in your cossies this summer – yes please!
When we talk about training the core at Elixr, we like to include a variety of fundamental exercises that are safe, efficient & effective. Our core mantra, as heard in many of our Pilates Reformer classes is "find your neutral spine" which is a great cue for ensuring your core muscles are working. To take it one step further, we must also make sure that we address physical requirements for strengthening the core – pushing, pulling, squats and lifting, with a focus on keeping the body supported with the spine in its neutral position, in effect activating the core. Some great exercises to practise are front plank, side plank and back bridge - all with an emphasis on keeping your spine in neutral.
With all that being said, if you want to improve the way your tummy looks there are many more physical benefits to training your core than just focusing on your abs. If you place emphasis on keeping your spine in its correct neutral position, the core will engage itself as your body moves – doing anything from brushing your hair to working up a sweat in an Elixr Pilates Reformer class. After all, the wonderful skills of mobility & stability we learn are simply another practise of improvement for our everyday life.