What Athletes Know You Need To Know About Your Core: The Truth About Abs

By on September 5, 2015

Your core and Abs, hold everything together! It brings the lower and upper body together, and strength is paramount to a healthy physique.

Sprinting Trains Abs

Think of the last sprinter at any level that you saw. Trim, toned waist and flat abs. Speed requires a strong core. Which comes first the chicken or the egg? It works both ways.

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You can run intervals of speed or hill repeats to strengthen your core. If you prefer to walk instead, or you do elliptical, swim or bike, you can insert that activity. While running probably requires slightly more effort due to the increased effect of gravity the others are not to be ignored! 

Everything you do to increase speed comes from your core. The stronger that is the faster you can go. The faster you go the stronger your core. To plan intervals simply start and end with warm up and cool down and in the middle of your main set insert some sprints against more resistance or go faster for 30 seconds to a minute.

Stabilization Trains Abs

The Plank, or the hover as I often refer to it, is a stabilization exercise. It’s what your abs do, or should, 99% of the time. Yet, we forward flex to train most of the time. There is no common sense to that. 

Look at how a biker maintains position for hours in endurance events. Likewise, the time a 10K or marathon takes to run requires constant abdominal stabilization. 

Once an athlete who’s in season begins to practice their sport they are doing these stabilization exercises regularly…for hours often. Biking, swimming and running are core conditioning.

52-year old Michelle doing a row from plank position

52-year old Michelle doing a row from plank position

Weight Training Trains Abs

All told, going faster, going further, and resistance training (even in water against a current) are “bracing.” That is, stabilization. For post-menopausal women even (a group of people studied more and more within the last few years and for whom a flat-belly seems to be illusive) gains in muscle mass from resistance training is inversely correlated with trunk adiposity gain.

That is…you lift weights ladies…gain some lean muscle tissue … and your waistline shrinks. 

This increased metabolism is one reason. Another is the “bracing” that happens during resistance training that IS core work. And it is core work in a way that doesn’t hurt or cause injury. Forward flexion, rotation against resistance, back extension – common machine exercises and common exercises in classes – can cause injury and while doing limited good.

69.5-year old Judi pumping iron

69.5-year old Judi pumping iron

Flat Abs Are Made In The Kitchen

Fat Belly comes from the kitchen too. If you’re eating foods you have an allergic response to – you don’t have to be sneezing or feel a belly ache – the bloating can make you fluffy “fat” when you’re not necessarily suffering from high body fat.

Eat fewer of your trigger foods. Following an elimination diet for a short time can clean your slate and then reintroducing one by one foods that are your potential greatest triggers. This is NOT a low calorie diet when we do it for the After 50 Fitness Formula programs. It’s just changing temporarily what you’re eating to get better results and more energy.

The biggest culprits for belly bloat (and it may be all, one or none for you): dairy, wheat, gluten, meat, soy, and sugar. Sugar is the worst culprit for all and it is in EVERYTHING. One of the biggest shocks to new clients is where sugar lurks and how it’s affecting them.

The less time you spend doing “core” exercise and the more you spend in the aforementioned activities and eating wisely the more you’ll be the one they whisper about in the locker room.

Debra Atkinson, MS, CSCS – Founder & Barely Boomer, Voice for Fitness.

About Debra Atkinson

Debra Atkinson, MS, CSCS is America’s Boomer Fitness Expert, speaker, and author of Navigating Fitness After 50: Your GPS For Choosing Programs and Professionals You Can Trust. After 30years in the fitness industry Debra committed to making sure women have good choices, real answers and putting an end to the diet and exercise confusion. Her new book, The After 50 Fitness Formula for Females based on her women’s coaching workshops is due out in 2016. Visit Debra at www.voiceforfitness.com.

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What Athletes Know You Need To Know About Your Core: The Truth About Abs