Core Training: General Guidelines

On the Ball

When deciding on which exercises to perform, how many to perform, and how frequently to perform them, take heed of the following tips: 

  • Do a variety of exercises to ensure balanced development. No single ab or low-back exercise is perfect. Only by performing a variety can you hit all of the various muscles and fiber angles. 

  • Mix up the order in which you perform exercises to continue stimulating the muscles. 
  • Spend more time training via stabilization and less time training via movement (i.e., fewer crunches and sit-ups). 
  • Use a variety of rep speeds: some faster, some slower. 
  • Use a variety of tools (e.g., exercise balls, medicine balls) to add fun and diversity to your program. 
  • Use a variety of training angles (incline, decline, flat) to manipulate the intensity and change the emphasis. 
  • Train your core 2-4 times a week. Your abs behave like any other muscle group, so train them the same way. As long as you're doing your periodic daily contractions, 2-4 dedicated sessions a week will do the trick. 



    If you don't know it already, be aware that spot reduction is a myth. Ab exercises don't rid your abdominal region of fat. No direct metabolic pathway connects the muscle cells in your abdominal area to the fat cells surrounding them. For any muscle to use stored fat for energy, your body must first send that stored fat to the liver, where it is converted into fatty acids before being sent to the muscles for use as fuel. In reality, the energy used by the abdominal muscles may not be fat from the abdominal region. It's possible that the energy used to perform an ab crunch may come from fat stores in your arms! The bottom line is that the key to reducing fat in and around your stomach is a program that includes regular cardiovascular exercise, muscle-conditioning exercise and sound nutrition. 


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