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I recently wrote about the fact that spot reduction is a myth. Specifically, I used the example of doing crunches and sit-ups and expecting to reduce body fat from your midsection.
That said, I’m not suggesting that you never do any exercises to strengthen your abs, but only that those exercises alone won’t shed the bulge. I am a big proponent of core training. Many people narrowly define the core to mean the abs, but your core if basically your entire midsection with exception of your extremities. Developing a strong and solid core makes a huge difference with your functional ability. Every movement that you make, every step, every turn, lift, bend, and reach engages your core muscles.
There are literally hundreds if not thousands of exercises to develop core stability and strength. Several of my past articles have focused on planks and variations of planks. Today I would like to introduce another core exercise.
The responsibility of your abs is not to bring your ribcage and hips together, as in a crunching movement. Instead, their responsibility is to resist that motion along with forward to back flexion and extension and twisting, or rotation. Imagine your core as a spring. That spring always wants to remain in one position. Bend it to the side and it snaps back in place. That’s the job of your core muscles too. They’re trying to keeping the body in place. A strong spring will do a better job than a weak spring.
Today’s exercise is a core rotation. This exercise can be performed using a cable machine or using a resistance band looped around a stationary object as in the video below. Watch the video to learn the proper way to perform this exercise. Remember to keep the arms away from the body to get the maximum effect of the weight. Draw the hands too close and you lose the benefit to your core.
Add this exercise to your program and watch for more core training ideas to build a strong foundation.
I love the plank because of the combination of simplicity and difficulty. It’s simple in terms of equipment needed (read: none), but it’s not easy. And depending on the variation and your level of fitness, it can be quite a challenge.
This version, called the Thai Plank, changes your position to focus more on the oblique muscles on the sides of the body that are responsible for resisting lateral flexion.
As an example of lateral flexion, imagine yourself carrying one heavy grocery bag with one arm using the handles. You pick up the bag and start carrying it, but you drop to that side and walk unbalanced.
That’s lateral flexion.
Strengthen your core and you’ll be better able to support that weight.
Unlike traditional static planks, the Thai Plank introduces movement, which changes your balance point and increases the challenge even further.
If you find this version a bit too difficult, regress it by lifting the arm and leg straight up rather than out in front of you. If that’s still too tough, eliminate the movement until you’re confident enough to take it to the next step.