People believe that having a six pack is more important than a strong core. Contrary to popular belief, visible abs does not mean strong abs. In fact, you can have strong abs underneath belly fat. A six pack just means you have less visceral fat, which therefore allows your abdominal muscles to protrude.
What are the benefits of having amazing looking abs as opposed to strong abs or a strong core? The only thing that comes to mind is that you will look great and strong which is very superficial. Don’t focus on looking the part, be the part. If you want to look like an athlete, train like an athlete.
Your favourite athlete doesn’t run that fast, jump that high and move that agilely because they have a six pack. It’s all because of their CORE! Now I’m not saying you will necessarily be the next Cristiano Ronaldo or Serena Williams after strengthening your core, but these are the creme de la creme of athletes. Ronaldo recently gave an insight into his training regime during the pandemic which, surprise surprise, included a workout focusing on his core not his six pack .
Prioritise core over abs every time you train. You want to build your body to make sure it supports your everyday movements in life rather than focus on aesthetics.
Core > Six Pack
What is the core?
The midsection of your body which involves all the muscles in that area including the front, back and sides. The core includes:
- Traverse abdominis – A muscle layer of the anterior and lateral (front and side) abdominal wall which is deep to (layered below) the internal oblique muscle.
- Rectus abdominis – A paired muscle running vertically on each side of the anterior wall of the abdomen. Used for flexion of the lumbar spine.
- Erector spinae – Three groups of deep muscles located on either side of the vertebral column
- Multifidus – Located under the erector spinae along the vertebral column, these muscles extend and rotate the spine
- Hip flexors – A group of muscles near the top of your thighs that are key to moving your lower body
- Obliques – Your internal and external obliques help you bend your torso to the side, help rotate your torso to the left and right, and helps to stabilize and protect your spine
These muscles all work in tandem and act as stabilizers of the body. Core training simply develops and strengthens these stabilizer muscles. If any of these muscles are weakened it could easily result in lower back issues.
Benefits of a strong core include:
- Spinal support
- Protection from lower back pains and injury
- Promotes good posture
- Improves balance and coordination
A stronger core means you’ll be able to move better and easier, remember your core works in every movement you do. Whether you’re pushing a shopping cart or putting on shoes, you use your core to accomplish everyday activities. A stronger core will also help you get stronger in other areas, you’ll be able to lift heavier weights and maintain proper form.
Exercises to strengthen your core:
- Plank – Support your body on your forearms and toes while holding your body in a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles. This exercise involves minimal movement and maximum effort.
- Hanging Knee Raises – Either hold yourself steady using dip bars or hang from a pull-up bar. Raise your knees towards your chest, then lower them slowly
- Oblique Twists – Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor (easier) or raised up off the floor (more difficult). Hold your torso at a 45-degree angle. Twist slowly from right to left with your torso, each time touching the medicine ball to the floor beside you.
There are benefits to having a six pack, you will look great and others will envy your physique. To be honest that’s where it starts and ends. Remember don’t focus on looking the part, you want to be the part.
When training your abs, the abdominals are only a part of your core. They do not represent the entire core. Train your entire core. Celebrity trainer Anna Kaiser said “Your core is the center of your entire body—everything else is an extension—so you want to make sure you’re strong in your entire core, and not just part of it.”
If you are still hell-bent on achieving popping abs we’ve put together a great workout that you should implement to burn belly fat fast. However always keep in mind, your core is your foundation and you cannot build a great building on a weak foundation, so train your core, not your abs.