Whether you’re gunning for 6-pack abs or you just want a stronger core, odds are you have tried to crunch or contort your way there. Whatever the flavor (sit up, bicycle crunch, Russian Twist, hanging leg raise, the list goes on and on) most “traditional ab exercises” consist of spinal flexion, spinal rotation or a combination of both. That’s cool. Flexing and rotating your spine are part of what abdominals are meant to do. So by all means do it in moderation, with control and only under safe load (or just body weight).
What most people forget is that your abdominals (as well as all the other muscles that make up your core) are meant to stabilize the spine and protect your internal organs. Meaning one their most important jobs is to resist movement, not just make movement (flexion and rotation). So it’s great if you can do 10,000 crunches. But that won’t help you maintain awesome posture when sitting at your desk, safely lifting heavy objects (like weights, groceries or kids) or even doing a push up. Core stability will not only help strengthen your abs (and help them “pop” when your body fat is low enough to see them) but it will help you lift heavier, perform better and keep your spine (and the rest of your joints and organs) safe.
Bottom line: too much spinal flexion and rotation without enough core stability leads to bad posture, poor movement and potential injuries. ***Note, if you have spinal or abdominal issues like a herniated disc, hernia or pain consult a doctor. If you need a referral to a great orthopedic, physical therapist or chiropractor in the Bay Area email me. I work closely with a handful of amazing pros and would be happy to hook you up directly.***
I asked my pal and fitness guru Marcia Robles to demonstrate three of her favorite core stability exercises with yours truly as her model. This is fitting considering Marica has been MY personal trainer for over five years. #JJandMarcia4ever If that’s not enough to convince you that she knows her s*it when it comes to core training check her killing these bottoms up kettlebell push ups with a leg lift. In the video below Marcia takes us through these foundational core stability drills:
- Dead Bug
- Pallof Press
Pretty much anyone can and should do some variety of these regularly regardless of your fitness level (***see note above***). These are great strengtheners for beginners and great core activation moves for advanced lifters and athletes before performing complex, compound movements. I also love these because you can easily do them at home, while traveling for work or anywhere. All you need is your body and a resistance band. Get to it and email me with questions!