Thursday, May 26, 2016

Strengthening Your Core- The Importance of Ab Workouts

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With summer approaching, the question I am most frequently asked is "How do I get my abs back?"

Well, I could tell you to do 1,000 crunches and drink a bunch of water and eat healthy but it's a little more complicated than that!  And 1,000 crunches aren't going to get it done anyway.

In order to have "abs" you need to strengthen your core.  There's a difference between core and abs. They work together but in order to have one, you need the other.  

You need to sweat.  And by doing so, engaging more than just your ab muscles.  Core strengthening involves tightening up the muscles in your stomach, obliques, and back that help improve your posture and give you overall strength.  So what are some core strengthening movements?  

- Squats (suck your bellybutton into your spine as you squat, chest up, knees at 90 degrees)
- Planking (same with that bellybutton into your spine- keep it tight) And side planks, forearm planks, or regular planks are great.  Be sure to keep  your back level as well, we don't want to arch it and strain your shoulders or upper back!
- Movements that bring your knees into your chest.  Tuck jumps.  High knees.  Mountain climbers. 
- Burpees.  I know.  I don't like them either.  Start small.  Aim for 10 at a time.  Then challenge yourself to do more.  
- V-type-movements.  Where your body makes a v-shape.  (See moves in the video below)
- Oblique twists.  Oblique pulls.  Oblique planks.  Oblique hip lifts.  

Of course, with any fitness regimen, especially abs, you must incorporate good nutrition.  Abs truly are made in the kitchen.  I never had better abs as when I was eating completely clean during my competition prep, however, we are human and a 100% clean nutrition lifestyle isn't always possible. Aim for the 80/20 rule like I do.  80% clean, 20% doing the best you can with what you have to work with!  Avoid processed foods when you can.  Avoid refined sugars and white/bleached flours, or anything that says "bleached" for that matter.  Stick to lean proteins, low-fat dairy, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains (brown rice, sweet potatoes, quinoa, lentils, beans) and incorporate healthy fats in smaller amounts.  Olive oils, avocado, unsalted nuts.  

Check out this video below with 10 of my favorite ab moves.  Do each move for 60 seconds to complete a full 10 minute workout.  

Aim to incorporate a good ab workout twice each week.  Like the rest of your muscle groups, your abs need rest and shouldn't be worked hard every single day.  Treat them well, and they will reward you greatly!  

Enjoy!  

If you'd like to learn more about improving your nutrition through fitness and eating lean, I would love to coach you and provide the accountability to help keep you pushing through and the tools to keep you on track.  Please email me at fitmommyashley@gmail.com or complete the following application below.  

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