Why Situps Don’t Work…
…and What to Do Instead
Most people associate a toned six-pack with fitness and strength and think the way to achieve that six-pack is with lots and lots of sit ups. Most soon find that, not only is this excruciatingly boring, but it doesn’t work. Sit ups only target the Rectus Abdominis (front abs) which, unless you strip off most of your body fat are hidden under a layer of fat anyway. Added to this, if you perform sit ups incorrectly, you run the risk of causing protrusion of the abdominal muscles and developing a pot belly or aggravating an existing hernia! Instead of concentrating on the six-pack it makes much more sense to focus on develop a strong core.
Core fitness isn’t just hype, many people are unaware that their core is actually their body’s centre of power. That’s why building core strength and stability is so important! The stronger your core is, the less strenuous physical activity becomes for you. This applies whether you’re a health buff participating in rigorous sports and games or just a normal person going about your daily chores. A strong core also lowers your risk of suffering physical injuries as it distributes body weight evenly and provides greater support and protection to your spine.
The main muscles that make up the core are the:
These are the six-pack muscles along the front of the abdomen that most people are familiar with. The exercise that best targets this group of muscles is the Abdominal Crunch performed on a Swiss or Fit Ball.
This group is made up of three muscles that stretch from your neck down to your lower back. The Back Extension (sometimes incorrectly called a hyper-extension) and Cobra Stretch are ideal exercises for improving strength and flexibility of these muscles.
External Obliques and Internal Obliques
The external obliques are the muscles around your waist, on the side and front of your abdomen. The internal obliques are located under the external obliques and run in the opposite direction. Perform the Side Plank and Side Bends to work these muscles effectively.
Transverse Abdominis (TVA)
These are often the most neglected muscles in many abdominal training exercises. Located deep down under the obliques, these muscles wrap around the spine and play an important role in providing stability and protection. Do the Plank for best results in improving core stability.
Challenge Yourself Further
It is important to note that, though each exercise engages a particular group of core muscles more intensely than the rest, more than one muscle type is involved in all the exercises mentioned above. This makes core training a very effective workout. And, if you’re no longer a novice and would like to challenge yourself further, check out the following equipment to move your regime up a gear:
Have a ball of a time working out with one of these! Exercise balls are great tools for enhancing flexibility, balance, coordination and strength. Use it for a full body workout or sit on it while you watch TV to improve your posture. Make sure you get one that is suitable for your height.
By far, Pilates has been known as the perfect programme to build core strength and stability. Try to find a Pilates instructor who takes the time to ensure that your techniques are correct and provides adaptations where needed.
This is a fun and interesting way to work your core muscles whilst learning how to keep balance. Once you’ve mastered the basic technique, try doing squats or twists on the board!
If you’re constantly on the go, these light and compact bands will help you maintain core fitness wherever you are. Resistance bands add tension to every move you make during your workout, and are great for helping to improve your posture.
Time for a Core Workout?
Still unconvinced? Then just take up core training as a new challenge! Consult a professional gym trainer and incorporate some suitable core exercises into your existing routine. After all, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. However, I bet you’ll soon become an advocate for core fitness yourself as you start enjoying better health and strength. Have fun!
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