Last Updated on April 16, 2018 by Michael Brockbank
Do you have muscular legs or arms but a bit of a flabby midsection? A lot us will show a great deal of muscle definition in various parts of the body but lack in areas of the gut. It may mean you’re not getting enough core work to improve abdominal muscles.
Like any other part of your body, your core needs attention if you want it defined. No diet is going to give your abs strength and endurance without giving them exercise of some kind.
In other words, you’re not going to get a six-pack by dieting alone. While the right foods can help your core by making it more efficient in processing proteins and vitamins, it takes muscle work to enhance yourself.
Why Should You Care about Core Work?
Don’t think of working on abs as just a way to appear sexy or look good on the beach. In reality, your core muscles contribute to a wide range of things that you probably take for granted.
Any time you bend or twist use various muscles from shoulders to waist is using your core muscles. Like playing golf? Plan on joining a bowling league? Perhaps you’re like myself and view household chores as more of an exercise routine.
All of these activities rely on the core to one extent or another. They contribute to how people maintain balance while standing. Your core even assists when you rolling out of bed in the morning.
My point is that it’s possible to look amazing from your hips down while still supporting a barrel gut. This is speaking from personal experience.
My legs are exceptionally defined and the upper body is looking quite nice. However, my stomach is still something that needs to be desired. Now this isn’t completely because of a poor diet. In fact, my lack of core work is why I still have quite a bit to my midsection.
Improving Strength, Stamina and Endurance
Like any other muscle in your body, the core has capacity for strength, stamina and endurance. The more fit your abs are, the more efficient they become.
It’s not just about showing a six-pack or displaying a flat stomach. It’s all about getting the real-world benefits from putting more effort into core work.
For example, let’s say you are an avid golfer or belong to a bowling team. As in any sport, muscle fatigue will start to reduce control and power when playing. As a result, your game begins to suffer over time.
Here’s another example. I have no problem carrying around 60 pounds of cat litter throughout a Petco because I put so much effort in creating strength in my arms and shoulders. However, I can definitely feel the workload in my back and stomach.
My Favorite Core Work Exercises
Because I am trying to lose as much as possible inside the next five weeks, I’m putting more effort into core workouts. It would be nice to look like a Greek god by May 21st, but it’s not my goal.
I simply want to lose a few inches around my waist. I also want to benefit from strengthening these muscles, such as better control in certain sports and having a heightened sense of stamina in others.
So, what exercises do I find the most effective for building up abdominal muscles?
Lying Leg Raises
Lying leg raises have been one of my favorite exercises since I started losing the weight. It’s an exceptionally easy workout to do regardless of how big you are. Even at 290 pounds, I was still able to crack out a few reps every day.
You can do lying leg raises just about anywhere. It doesn’t take a lot of preparation and is doable from the office, in your bedroom or while sitting in the backyard.
If you want to add more to the workout, wrap a few pounds worth of weights to your ankles. You can pick up ankle weights from places like Walmart for about $10. However, don’t underestimate an extra few pounds per foot. You’ll feel the difference after your normal set.
I thought planking was one of the dumbest Internet memes imagined, and for the longest time I refused to try the exercise. Then, one day my ex talked me into trying it and I’ve been a fan ever since.
After getting up to a record of just over two minutes, I was blown away by how much of a difference it made in certain activities. For one thing, I was geeking out pretty hard when I was able to sit straight up from lying on the floor without using my arms. It was all ab muscles doing the work.
The idea behind planking is sustainable flexing of your ab muscles. This actually works in every strength training exercise and contributes to building strength and stamina.
Yes, push-ups will contribute to core work. In reality, it’s a plank with the addition of using your arms, shoulders, back and chest.
I first noticed the effects of push-ups after I started getting into planks and lying leg raises. For one thing, my stomach will get incredibly tired if I try to do push-ups immediately after something like a plank.
Think about it; the starting position of a push-up is the same as when you plank, only you’re using your hands to brace yourself instead of your elbows and forearm.
A scissor kick is much like a lying leg raise with the exception that you’re moving your legs in opposite directions. Think of it like walking in mid-air.
In some ways, I like these more than the leg raise above as it feels like there is more work being done to my glutes as well as hip flexors. This is based on personal experience and how the exercise makes me feel after doing a few sets.
This is another really easy exercise to do just about anywhere. It has very little in terms of preparation and can be done whether you’re wearing clothes or in just your gym shorts.
Core Work and You
A lot of people attribute core exercises as just a way to build a washboard stomach. In the long-term, it’s more about improving various activities in your life. In most cases, you’ll use your core muscles more often than any other group in your body.
Personally, I’m doing it so I can beat my brother at golf for the first time this summer. It’s all about power and control, and core work contributes to both of these.