One element that you must make sure you aren't overlooking is core strength training. If you aren't taking the time to perform the right combination of exercises in your program plan or aren't targeting the muscles effectively, you are not going to see the results that you are hoping for.
Some people do make the vital mistake of thinking that if they want to get flat abs, the number one thing that they absolutely must be doing is making sure that they perform crunch after crunch after crunch.
While it is true that crunches are an effective way to firm and strengthen the core, keep in mind that to get flat abs, diet also needs to be added into the mix.
Without a proper fat loss diet, results will never be yours. It's when you get the right diet plan combined with a proper strength training workout that you see the results that you're hoping to.
This said, let's introduce you to some of the key concepts about core strength training that you must keep in mind at all times. If you can make sure that you're paying attention to these, you can feel confident that you're on your way to success.
First it's important to take a look at some of the top core movements that you should be completing on a regular basis as part of your core strength training program.
When thinking about which exercises to include, one of the most important points to think about is ‘instability’. The less stable you can make your body, the better off you'll be. As soon as you destabilize yourself, you're going to cause muscle fibers deep within the core to contract much harder than they otherwise would have. The end result? You get better results.
So, which core movements will cause a decrease in stability?
Here is a brief list to get you started.
Also keep in mind that you can perform some of your traditional strength training exercises on an exercise ball as well. For example, rather than doing regular dumbbell shoulder presses, consider performing them while sitting on top of an exercise ball. In doing so, you'll destabilize yourself, causing the core to contact harder to maintain balance.
Other core strength training exercises to include in your workout are those that have some degree of twisting action. By forcing the body to twist like this as you move through the movement, you're going to work the obliques to a larger extent, giving you a well-rounded workout approach.
Some great examples of exercises that involve this twisting motion include:
Be sure to choose one or two of these exercises as well to include in your core strength training program.
This brings us to the next question that must be addressed, when to perform your core strength training. Many people often wonder if they should be performing their core workout sessions at the very start of their workout routine, or if they would be better off performing them between sets or at the end of the workout instead.
First things first, never perform your core exercises at the very beginning of your workout routine. This is really problematic for a couple of reasons.
First, doing so is going to cause you to fatigue the abs and the abs are required to support the body on all the other exercises you do. For example, each time you perform a squat, you're going to be utilizing the core to keep yourself in proper position. When you perform the shoulder press, in order to prevent your back from swaying, you'll need to keep the core tight as well.
If you perform those core workouts first, you're going to run the risk of suffering from an injury and reduce how much weight you're able to lift total.
Next, another important thing that you must keep in mind is that while you can perform them between your main weight lifting sets, doing so may bring about additional fatigue as well. Some people like this approach as it allows them to keep moving during their workout, maintaining a higher heart rate overall and also ensuring that they are able to get in and out of the gym quickly. But, if doing those core strength training exercises causes you to falter in your performance of your other lifts, you're best off avoiding this technique.
Instead, the best bet is to always perform your core strength training program at the very end of your workout. Devote 10-15 minutes to it two to three times per week and that is what will yield you best results.
Finally, let's leave you off with a few key points to remember as you perform your core workouts.
First, always focus on the muscular contraction taking place. Far too many people allow themselves to recruit other muscles as they perform this exercise, taking away from the results you should be seeing. Zero in and focus on each contraction. Think about the abs and you'll feel the movement more.
Second, make sure you breathe. Another big mistake many people make is allowing themselves to hold their breath, which just causes a build-up of pressure to occur in the body. Breath in and out in a steady fashion and you'll generate more force and see better results.
So there you have the main points to note about core strength training. If you utilize all of these tips, you will be well on your way to not only developing a strong core, but helping achieve a pleasing appearance as well.