Down to the Core: Let’s Get Real

by Damon Mackey, Fitness Consultant

Like the core of an apple is not seen until the meaty part is dissolved, the human core works the same way. The “core” is the group of muscles surrounding our abdominal area. It is also the part that stabilizes and helps support the lower back. It allows us to bend, reach, squat, pull, sit, and stand. If you work hard enough, you may get 6-pack abs out of the deal. Then again,  some people are naturally born that way because it’s in their genes. Otherwise, it takes work and dedication. Now let’s get real – most people won’t commit to such a grueling routine of carving that pouch into a work of art, but the good part about it is you don’t have to! We all pick up fitness and entertainment magazines and see amazing abs that seem to inspire even the biggest couch potato. Okay, so the magazines might enhance the photograph a bit to really make you green with envy, but most of us would be satisfied just being able to tuck our shirts in without any excess bulge in view.

So, what are some simple ways to tighten up and strengthen that core? There are several ways to achieve this goal, but let me give you a few tips and tricks that are realistic and really can put you on the right road to sculpted abs…if you put in the work:

  • Watch your posture. Most Americans walk with sloping shoulders, which causes our backs to be unsupported. Try walking with your shoulders back, chest out, and lifting from your abdomin. This will cause a contraction to the abs – which is the key.
  • Crunches can be done anywhere. A crunch is a contraction in the abdominal section, which tightens the stomach muscles toward the lower back. Try doing crunches while at your desk working, shopping, or even talking to your boss. If you are the boss, then while talking with your employee. Yes, contractions can be done standing up.
  • Decrease your portions at the table. Your stomach is only about as big as your fist. Now that’s food for thought! Concentrate on low-carb eating.
  • Step up your cardio a notch.  Commit to at least 30 min per day of a cardio workout. If you walk, add a little running. If you treadmill, increase your incline for 2 minutes for a little challenge. Also, try classes that target core strengthening like Pilates, Yoga, Kickboxing or Zumba Toning.
  • Don’t hold your breath. As you weight train remember to breathe in through the nose, and exhale through the mouth – which causes contractions in the abs as well.
  • The Stability/Exercise Ball. Try watching your favorite TV show sitting stable on an exercise ball. This will cause your core to be contracted, engaged, and supported.
  • Remember, the key is commitment. After a few months of my tips and tricks, you will be able to tuck that shirt in with no problem!


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