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The Now What Fitness Series lays out the foundation of fitness in a concise and simplified manner, making for a collection of books that help the reader truly comprehend how to improve one's health and well-being from A to Z. I've broken fitness down into comprehensive concepts, giving anybody who truly wants to change their health and their lives in profound ways, the step-by-step tools and knowledge to do so. 

Core Training

Ask several fitness pros about core training and you’ll get several differing opinions on the best and most effective methods. However, they should agree on a few essentials, and that is what I want to talk about here: the essential importance of training the core and a few basic tips to keep in mind as you construct your core workout routine. 

What’s that you say? What core training routine? Yes, that’s what I was afraid of. Many of you completely ignore them. 

While some experts purport that it isn’t necessary to isolate your abs if you are doing a sufficient total body strength training regimen, I tend to disagree. I feel that it couldn’t hurt to dedicate some TLC towards the mid-section no matter how much you think you engage your core during strength training. 

I’m not going to get all technical and name the core muscles that none of us can or would want to spell or pronounce. However, if you want to know that stuff, click here. Just don't forget to come back.

I’m not going to illustrate them here either. I think you know where your tummy is. This isn’t anatomy 101. However, if you need a really sexy reminder of where six-pack abs would be if you had them, take a gander at this picture. Now them there is some nice abs!! 

Keeping it simple 
I am going to keep this very elementary because I firmly believe that too much info just confuses things. Besides, most people just want the cliff notes and aren’t concerned with technical jargon anyways, right? 

The core muscles consist of your abdominal muscles (abs), your oblique muscles (sides), and your lower back. Your lower back is often overlooked, however, hugely important for total core strength. You must remember to finish up your crunches with some lower back strengthening such as low-back extensions on the Swiss ball. 

Following are some of the ways people tend to blow it when it comes to core training:

  • Performing ab work improperly.
  • Not doing ab work at all.
  • Performing ab work to the exclusion of any other strength training.
  • Never training lower back muscles.
  • Doing hundreds of sit-ups thinking it will flatten their belly. (See more on this below.)

 Reasons to train abs correctly and regularly:

  • Not training your core or training them improperly can lead to low back pain and injury.
  • A strong core will help prevent back pain and injury.
  • It will assist maintenance of good posture and correct postural imbalances that can lead to injury.
  • It will help develop functional fitness and keep us injury free as we age. 

Did anyone catch the common denominator in the above reasons? That’s right, say it together, now: INJURY PREVENTION! What more reason do we need? Oh, alright… a six-pack is a good thing to strive for too.

Will Crunches flatten my tummy? 

No, no, and one more time, NO! Crunches, ab machines, sit ups or any exercise of the sort will not get rid of your fat belly. These exercises will, however, tone and condition the muscle underneath all that flab. Sorry, but it’s the painful truth. I wish it weren’t so, but it is. 

To lose that jelly belly, you must do cardio training, total body strength training (including core exercises) and eat a sensible diet. Told you it was painful. But so very worth it. 

There is controversy concerning how many times a week to train your core. I, personally, like to alternate my core workout between resisted and non-resisted work and hit them about 3 times a week. Hey, it works for me. I tell my clients they can train them daily if they wish, but I do not believe it is necessary. 

Core Training Tips:

  • Pick an exercise or two that isolates the 1) abs, 2) oblique muscles, and 3) lower back.
  • Perform 2-3 sets of each for up to 25 reps.
  • Exhale on exertion or as you crunch and raise shoulders no further than 30 degrees; beyond that engages your hip flexors.
  • Train your core at the very least twice a week or more if you desire. I like to give a day of rest between mine especially when I do resisted ab work. 

So, come on people! Let’s hit the Swiss ball or the floor and crunch like we know what we’re doing. But…just in case you don’t…click here.

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