3 Steps To A Strong and Sexy Core
If there’s one thing that we women seem to be obsessed with, it’s our core, and quite right too because your core is one of the most important parts of a beautifully functioning fabulous body. However, lots of women have come through our doors confused about what they want from their core so I thought I’d try to throw some light on what having a ‘strong’ core really means, how it’s different to getting ‘toned abs’ and exactly how you can do both of those things.
Watch the video to discover the 3 steps that you need to take to lose fat around the middle and have a core of steel.
What is your core?
Your core isn’t simply your tummy, your core is everything that isn’t your head of your limbs.
Butt, back, chest, abs, that ALL your core, even your pelvic floor muscles make up your core.
You’ll be using your core when you do pretty much any kind of movement, so having a core that’s stable and able to properly deal with the daily stresses and strains we put under it is key if you want to be pain free, active and mobile. All of which sounds awesome doesn’t it?
What do you really want from your core?
FESS UP TIME….Trainers will tell you that when a client says ‘I want a strong core’ that’s often code for ‘I want toned abs/less belly fat, but that sounds vain, getting a strong core sounds much more sensible and practical, so that’s what I’ll ask my trainer for’.
(Is that you? It’s ok, be honest...no-one is listening.)
The exception is often the moms or women with injuries we work with who’ve experienced what it feels like when the core isn’t working properly, whether suffering from back pain or embarrassing leaks. When the core isn’t doing it’s thang it can put more than a dent in your mojo and you realise it’s time to start taking this shiz seriously.
So - do you want to your core to be able to function properly OR would you like all of that plus to lose belly fat?
[Tweet "The starting point for changing anything is to get really clear on where you’d like to go."]
If you want to lose 3 cm from your waist, say it! If you want to be able hold a plank for longer than your partner just to show them what a badass you are say it! If you want to stop peeing your pants every time you run for the bus (or even if you’d like to be able to run for the bus), shout that from the rooftops!
Get clear on your goals and then you can start on your roadmap to get there.
The Core Conundrum - Lose Fat Or Get Strong?
There’s a mistaken belief that a strong core will automatically bring about a leaner belly. In fact the two things are completely distinct and you’ll want to do different things to achieve both of those goals.
A strong core is something that personal trainers and physiotherapists can help with. Getting a nice strong core is not about doing hours and hours of crunches. You can get a strong core in as little as 5 minutes a day and the good news is you don't even need to go to the gym. If you’re doing the right kind of exercises, with the right technique regularly you’ll see improvements in just a week.
The truth is that most of us get given a set of simple exercises to do and we either don’t do them often enough, or we start to improve, the pain we might be feeling stops and so we stop doing the exercises. I know I’ve been guilty of the same approach in the past too.
(If you need some inspiration for exercises, then check out the Core Adore 7-Day Programme. I've got tons of exercises in there to help fire up your core fast.)
If you are a gym-goer then embracing the free-weights will fire up the core as will doing full body movements like squats, lunges, deadlifts etc. If that all sounds deadly dull you can take a more Pilates-style approach in your own home too. Personally I like to mix the two together.
In Rebelle and in my own training we use full body resistance training, mostly bodyweight to begin with, and Pilates-inspired core strengthening moves to target areas that traditional weight training doesn’t hit.
Time to bust a myth! Fat does not turn to muscle, and muscle doesn't turn to fat.
Your muscles sit underneath a layer of fat, which means if you want to show off your tight and toned core, you're going to need to lower your body fat.
Your biggest slim-down results are going to come from the food that you put in your mouth.
Think lots of protein, green veggies, a ton of water. If you want to get started, then eat minimally processed food and keep a food diary to help you stay consistent. (Clueless? Then why not sign up for a free membership and download our taster program with some sample recipes. Give them a whirl and see how you get on.)
Sugar, excessive starches, stress, lack of sleep and hormonal imbalance are the enemy of toned tums so losing belly fat is almost like a dance. First of all you learn the main steps, (eat good food and move your body). Then, as you get more confident you start to style your moves, add some flair and make it look amazing. In fitness terms that’s when you get on top of your sleep, your stress, your life laundry and hormonal balance.
When you get these big rocks in place, losing belly fat becomes easier.
Try increasing the number of veggies you eat and aiming for 8-10 portions per day. Swapping some of the fruits, sugars or processed foods you eat for more veggies and protein at every meal will get you some great belly-slimming results.
Can I just do more cardio?
Let's talk workouts. Now, unfortunately, you can't spot reduce, which means that you can't do leg exercises and lose fat from your legs or tummy exercises to lose fat from your tummy.
Instead, we need to blast fat all over. Don't waste your time plodding gently on the treadmill. Instead, most people need intense exercises at least 3 times a week, sometimes more.
Start simple - if you’re not working out at all, then doing anything is going to be better than nothing. Don’t delay because you haven’t got the perfect HIIT routine in place, just start by moving.
I love walking for belly fat loss. Walking 10,000 steps a day is one of the ways you can burn around 250 calories, use your core and lower your stress hormone, cortisol, which in turn reduces the amount of food you store around your belly as fat.
Conversely, hours of long intense cardio might have worked in your twenties but the body thinks that a hardcore kick-boxing class is a stress, the same stress hormone is released and triggers more belly fat. Ironic huh?
So what SHOULD you do?
Walk as much as possible, grab a step counter and try to get up to that 10,000 steps per day
Add in at least 3-5 short (less than 30 minutes) intense workouts that make your muscles burn and get you hot, sweaty and out of breath. All of the workouts in the Rebelle program as especially designed to do this.
Add in resistance training. Doing this will improve your hormonal balance and you’ll be able to eat more of the things you love. You don’t need to turn into a Crossfit lover or start power-lifting, simple bodyweight exercises can also improve your metabolism.