How to get a strong core, flatter stomach and better definition.

As summer arrives and with it the prospect of a day on the beach, we might be looking at how exactly our mid-section appears in swimwear.

But there’s more to it than that as the health benefits of a strong core and a toned stomach are many. Carrying more weight around your middle has been found to increase your risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. And a strong core is essential for stability, back health and posture.
But before you start racking through endless and torturous stomach crunches, read on as there’s much more to it than you might think…

Take a Holistic Approach

Beauty expert Lisa Harris says a holistic approach is key, with exercise, diet and even correcting your posture, which helps tone stomach muscles and gives you an instantly streamlined look. She advises kickstarting your efforts with some detoxifying juices such as beetroot and celery, get your lymphatic system working with body brushing, and consider a body wrap treatment to help flush out toxins.

Food for Thought

Another key tip is to include Omega 3 fatty acids found in oily fish, nuts and seeds to manage insulin levels in the body and lose belly fat. And reach for foods containing soluble fibre such as flax seeds, apples, quinoa and beans (black & kidney beans).

Types of Fat

There are two types of fat: the dangerous type of fat is called visceral fat and is stored in the abdominal cavity and surrounds your organs. The other type of fat is called subcutaneous, and simply sits underneath the skin and provides energy and insulation.

To lose fat you must be in a calorie deficit, this means burning more calories than you are consuming. You can do this by increasing your level of exercise, reducing your food intake, or a combination of the two.
Remember, whatever diet you do it should be sustainable. If you want to lose fat for good, you must choose dietary choices and a lifestyle that you can stick to.

A stronger core – The job of the core muscles is to stabilise and control movements from the lower body to the upper body. Typical responsibilities include: rotation, anti-rotation, flexion and extension. A strong core is essential to transfer power between the upper and lower back, to stabilise the body whilst lifting things, to help control the body and to secure it, to reduce the risk of injury. A common misconception about ‘core’ training, is only focusing on the visible abs or six pack muscles. It is also essential to train the obliques, lower back and deep abdominal muscles.

Make sure to involve some static exercises, like the plank, some rotation exercises such as woodchops or Russian twists, flexion-extension exercises like sit-ups and back extensions, and even some unevenly loaded exercises like single arm kettlebell farmers walk – to train the various aspects of the core muscles.

Static exercises:

  • Plank
  • Reverse plank
  • Crunch holds
  • Superman hold
  • Flexion-Extension Exercises:
  • Sit ups
  • Leg raises
  • Knee tucks
  • Back extensions
  • Good mornings

Rotation/Anti-Rotation exercises:

  • Woodchops
  • Russian twists
  • Pallof press

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