The elusive six pack, or wait, is it an 8 pack now? Who can keep up! All I know is if you’re chasing a strong core…there is so much more to it than just a shredded set of abs.
Today, Zap Fitness PT Peter Vayne is going beyond the aesthetics and breaking down five key exercises you need to do to effectively train your core.
With a background in contemporary dance and training aerial circus arts, Peter understands the benefits to training a strong core, “I have dedicated my life to movement and activity to get the best out of my own body.” explains Peter.
“My ethos has a strong focus on fitness as a lifelong journey. I want to help empower my clients with the knowledge, skills and resources to assist and inspire them to live their healthiest and best life.” He adds.
Before we dive into Peter’s key movements, let’s get something straight, “Your ab muscles are only one part of the group of muscles that wrap around your midsection and stabilise your spine and pelvis. Abdominal exercises alone won’t work these muscles effectively. To get the job done, you need to strengthen all of the muscles in your core region including your obliques, pelvic muscles, hip muscles and the muscles that support your spine.”
So with that in mind, take it away Peter…
1. Pelvic Floor Activation
This is great for beginners, and it’s one that Peter claims he will have all of his clients do routinely. To do this movement, you lie on the ground. Place your fingertips on your stomach and focus on pressing your stomach to the ground. Lift out a single leg while keeping your spine to the ground and your pelvis neutral. This will encourage your lower abdominals to activate. Switch legs and repeat.
2. Plank Hold
Get in the push up position, only put your forearms on the ground instead of your hands. Your elbows should line up directly underneath your shoulders. Toes on the ground. Squeeze your glutes and tighten your abdominals. Keep a neutral neck and spine. Your aim is to create a straight, strong line from head to toes – a plank, if you will. Hold that position.
Peter points out some simple tips to remember, “Don’t let your hips sag down to the ground. Sagging hips makes the exercise initially easier, but it’s not a plank and it defeats the purpose of the exercise. Look down at the ground. This is a good prompt for maintaining a neutral neck position. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.”
3. Glute Activation
According to Peter, the Glutes are often neglected when it comes to training the core, but he feels that they are strongly connected so glute activations such as glute raises and other similar variations such as single leg raises, glute holds and pulses are ideal. You can add bands to increase the resistance on these too.
4. Abdominal ROM
Activating your abdominal ROM or Range of Movement through a series of exercises is great for switching on more than just the up and down muscles. ROM exercises will recruit the core muscles responsible for moving side to side too. Peter incorporates machines such as the Cable Press, “I will get my clients to stand side on to the cable press and with a neutral spine pull the cable in front of them. This movement recruits the obliques without any twisting, which is ideal for beginners who are just learning how to switch on these muscles.”
5. Vertical Knee Tuck
As Peter explains this exercise is perfect for beginners but can be intensified for the more experienced. “You can do this as a single leg lift by standing or using both legs laying down or hanging from a bar, depending on your ability.” explains Peter. “The movement recruits the often-neglected lower abdominals as you are raising your legs.” he adds.
Remember to execute the above movements with control and focus and you should see and feel the improvements to your core strength.
– By Prue Houston