Starting this Tuesday night at 5:30pm we will be having Coach Brittney come in and teach us a core class. Many of you know her as the fix guru and the heavy lifter over in the corner. For those of you who haven’t met her, I’ll introduce her professionally:

Brittney Doran works with our friends at Head2to Spine and Sports Clinic up in Edmonds (see their awesome clinic here!). She is a Certified Athletic Trainer and Active Release Technique Provider who currently oversees Head2toe’s active rehabilitation program, and she excels at using functional movement evaluations to pinpoint the cause of injury and dysfunction.

Around the gym, she has been one of my personal weightlifting clients for several months and is happily married to Russell Wilson. She has two boxers, and enjoys among other things, soccer, an activity (sport?) she played at the collegiate level.

I asked Brittney to explain the class and she sent me this:

The Difference Between Core and Abs

A lot of the time, people think that when you say core, you mean abs.  Well that’s a major oversimplification. What is the difference between core and abs? The Rectus Abdominus, or the “six pack muscle”, is actually only one of six muscles that make up the core.  In its entirety, the core covers the lower back, stomach, hips and glutes.  These groups work together to support your spine and keep your entire body stable. It’s now scientifically proven that doing masses of sit ups and crunches won’t increase your core strength. You might see that six pack, eventually, but that actually depends much more on diet than “ab” exercises.

Really, the best cores strengthening moves are what we call “anti-“ moves. Anti-rotation, anti-flexion, anti-extension. It means your torso resists a movements rather than creates it. A good example is a suitcase carry vs. toes to bar. A suitcase carry forces your torso
to be stiff while your legs walk, whereas T2B require you to bend your torso in half.

The Benefits of having a strong core
Whether you are a competitive athlete, work in manual labor, or just like to garden at home, those body movements all utilize your low back, hips and abdominals.  Just imagine the possibilities if all those muscles are strong!  Having a weak core is like that old picnic race with the egg on the spoon. The egg is delicate, unstable, and wiggly. You spend half your energy just trying to keep it in place and not broken! Now imagine having a rock on the spoon. Much better. You win every time. That’s how your body feels when you try to work out with a wiggly mid-section, it’s spending half its energy keeping you from cracking. Imagine if ALL your strength could be focused on that weight?! Hello, PR.

If that ain’t enough to convince you, core weakness can also cause instability resulting in low back pain and other serious injuries. Core strength is one of the best injury prevention strategies there are!

How can I build a strong core and abs?
Ultimately, to be successful in a core work out, we have to avoid muscle isolation! Forget the sit-ups, V-ups and bicycle kicks.  If you really want to build a strong core, the new core class being offered here at Slate is a great way to learn how. Spend 30 minutes every week challenging and engaging those core muscles in whole new ways. Think you’re already too strong to need more work? Come show us how good you are 😉