Believe it or not, six-pack abs aren’t a dead giveaway that you’ve got a super-strong core. “The truth is, if you get lean enough you will have a great-looking midsection,” says Mathew Uohara, C.S.C.S., founder of Hale Inu Strength and Conditioning.
But looking good on the surface doesn’t necessarily mean your trunk is all-around tough. So, how can you focus on building “real” core strength? Uohara suggests these four training strategies.
You’ll get the most out of core-strengthening floor moves when you adopt a “neutral pelvis” position. This means that your pelvis and rib cage are in alignment. Teach yourself this position by lying on your back with your knees in table-top position and your arms up toward the ceiling. When you inhale, your midsection, not your chest, should rise first, and your back should not be flat against the floor.
Up the “anti”
A stable core gives you something to build off of. To boost stability, do exercises that are anti-extension, anti-flexion, and anti-rotation around a neutral core. Planks are a good example.
Think of your core as a central place for force to pass through. To strengthen it, perform moves that keep your limbs engaged in opposite tasks while your core helps you maintain balance. For a training example, kneel on your right knee with your left foot planted on the floor in front of you, knee bent. Grab a dumbbell with your right hand, and press it overhead.
The first three strategies we’ve mentioned train your core to be stable as force passes through it. But you’ll also benefit from generating force from your midsection. How? Think about kicking a large punching bag. Relax your core muscles as force is transferred through your leg, and then quickly contract your core upon impact.