The Core Truth
Since many of you are back on the yearly mission to lose weight and get back in shape, lets take a look at a specific hard truth. When it comes to body composition and the most obsessed area on our body, we are obviously talking about abs. Both men and women stress, fuss, worry and will do the most ridiculous things to try to flatten and build the elusive set of six pack abdominals.
No exercise fad, extreme cardio regimen, equipment gimmick or crazy diet nor the many famous 6-pack ab hacks you see all over the internet will do. The only way to get those ripped and rippling sexy muscles is by following a particular series of events.
To be clear, developing abdominals is complex and very difficult and starts with nutrition. To lose belly fat, you must have a calorie deficit and this will require shifting the body from a carb burning machine to a fat burning monster. Yes, Ketogenic (Low Carb) eating can undoubtedly help kickstart the process, but the goal is to reduce body fat and specifically the fat stores around your belly and midsection. Unfortunately, your body favors storing fat in your midsection, so nature is working against you!
Studies have found that even with an intense six-week core training program, without adjusting your nutrition, belly fat went unchanged in those who participated in the study. Note their abdominal development was solid, but their six-pack abs were covered by subcutaneous fat layers.
Exercises are the next point to developing those jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring core. Here is where it gets even more complicated, requiring you to isolate a series of core muscle groups to build a complete balanced and ripped abdominal area.
It is essential to understand your core musculature thoroughly. This must include your lumbopelvic-hip complex, which supports your lumbar spine, pelvic girdle, abdomen, and hip. Other muscles that must be factored into a solid core workout are your psoas, hip flexors, pelvic floor, latissimus dorsi, and gluteus maximus.
As you develop your core workout program, it is essential to work all of the primary core muscle groups:
1. Rectus Abdominis also referred to as the “six-pack” muscles. Note: you actually have eight, not six.
2. Erector Spinae, a group of muscles running from neck to lower back.
3. External Obliques, the side, and front of the abdomen.
4. Internal Obliques under the external obliques, running in the opposite direction.
5. Transverse Abdominis under the obliques, it is the deepest of the abdominal muscles and wraps around your spine for protection and stability. This set of abdominal muscles is often neglected and underdeveloped.
I would recommend working with a certified personal trainer to develop a very specific exercise program for all the core muscle groups. The training should focus on isolating muscle groups specific to the various abdomine areas. For example, deadlifts using heavyweights are great for strength training and do activate core muscles, but they do not build them effectively.
One specific area to pay close attention to is the Transverse Abdominal muscles which in most people, are weak and stretched. Weak Transverse Abdominal muscles are the number one cause of hernias. When your Transverse Abdominal muscles are stronger and developed, it tightens your waist and gives solid core stability and abdominal control. Your Rectus Abdominals or six-pack is on top of your Transverse Abdominals which run horizontally below them and provide your six-pack the strong foundational support needed to pull your core into that tight vacuum look that is so much desired.
Your core and its many muscle groups play an overall supporting role of stabilizing movement protecting your spine, internal organs and giving you better overall body strength. When you start to look at what your body is doing when being active, it becomes clear that core stability is an essential function for proper posture, movement, endurance, and athletic performance.
Having six-pack abs is fantastic and something to strive for, but keep in mind there is more to why you need a strong core then body composition and looks. Even if you do not lose subcutaneous fat layers covering your six-pack, if you're working your base core, they are there even if you don't see them.
The hard truth for six-pack abs starts with a caloric deficit, lower body fat percentages, targeted and specific isolated abdominal muscle exercise and finally maintaining an overall lean musculature body mass. Muscle eats fat, fat covers muscle and hides your Rectus Abdominis or six-pack, so be prepared to sacrifice calorie intake and add workout time to maintain your ripped awesomeness once you achieve those glorious abdominals!
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A recognized health and wellness presenter, fitness trainer and now primal health coach in the Inland Northwest. Now in his eighth year of bringing health and wellness through his writing, teaching and coaching, Judd delivers his well-rounded message of mindfulness, nutrition and fitness to readers and clients alike.