The Fundamentals of Building a Strong, Sexy Core

And not one of them is a crunch

For decades, the crunch and sit up have been the poster child for flat stomachs and 6 pack abs. The paradigm has shifted in the last decade or so and more and more people are understanding the dangers of moves that repeatedly flex and compress the spine, like crunches and sit ups. On top of that, both are ineffective for building a complete core as they only work the top layer, called the rectus abdominis, better known as your “6 pack muscles”.

To build a mid-section we can be proud of, one that shows off all of our sexy core musculature, we have to activate not only our 6 pack muscles, but the muscles surrounding them and also the ones hidden deep underneath the surface which are chronically ignored by so many. Focusing on the entire core, including the lower back, is a key in building washboard abs, but also a strong, stable core.

Zach, I want to build a strong, stable, sexy core, but all I know are crunches. HELP!??!?

My pleasure. Lets do this.


Compound Movements Are The Key To A Powerful Core

Squat and Deadlift
WHAAAAAT?! Are you out of your mind? Squats and deadlifts are all legs and glutes!

Slow down there, Sally. What you must understand about the your core is that it isn’t trained the same way we train other muscle groups. The core acts as a stabilizer in functional movements like the squat, deadlift, overhead press, and so on and also aids in transferring force throughout the movement. Most people don’t know this so they think their only options are movements where the core is the primary mover, like in crunches for abs and back extensions for the low back.

In a squat, your core is focused on stabilizing your torso so it doesn’t fold in half under the weight on your shoulders. In a deadlift, your core works to not only help lift the weight, but also stabilize the spine and hold a neutral back to maintain proper form.

Both the squat and the deadlift are functional compound movements that will build a well rounded, strong core that will promote better posture, movement, stability that will carry over into everyday life. When is the last time you had to do a crunch to get something done? Never, but if you’ve ever had to pick something up off the floor then you’ve had a need for deadlift and squat mechanics.

When we develop strength in compound movements like these we boost our ability to complete physical tasks in real life while also decreasing our risk for injury because we’ve developed good form and movement patterns that become second nature. These good habits bring improved posture which promotes better movement patterns. The more efficiently we move the less chance we have of developing things like low back pain, shoulder pain, inflexibility, limited range of motion, joint pain, and so on.

Isn’t that what the gym should be about? Helping us live easier lives?

The byproduct of all these compound movements is that you will indeed build a sexier, tighter stomach that you’ll want to show off at the beach, but only if your body fat is low enough. I wrote about losing fat and building muscle recently. Check that article here —

Doing these movements without good form is not only ineffective, but dangerous. Check these three articles out for a full breakdown on how to execute three compound movements, the squat, overhead press, and the deadlift, here— Deadlift | Squat | Overhead Press


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About The Author: I’m Zach Newman. I’m an ACE Certified Personal Trainer. Conversation is insanely important to me. Its why I love creating things because creation sparks discussion and discussion is the best way to learn from each other. Whether its about fitness and health, what books to read, or what’s going on in the world today, my goal is to build the best community around conversations that better the lives of everyone involved.

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