How to best work your core


Let’s take some time to talk about a summer time favorite: core training!

Everyone wants that “six pack” look – or at least a defined mid-section – right in time for the lake, pool or beach. Unfortunately, and relatively naturally, most people immediately go to sit ups and crunches. After all, every gym-goer in every gym ever does them as part of their “abs and arms” workout day. I mean, come on… Rocky did them and he was super ripped! So, obviously, crunches=six pack abs…right?

The Truth

People usually think crunches or sit ups are the best way to work your core. They couldn’t be more wrong.

The core is actually made up of a lot of muscles working together to preserve your spine and save it from injury. That’s right; not just your abdominals but also muscles such as your Multifidi and Erector Spinae make up this mystical core. Doing exercises that cause spinal flexion or extension, such as sit ups and crunches, can actually put excessive pressure and punishment on the facet joints and discs in the spine and, in fact, do very little to actually strengthen the muscles.

Three things lead to the spine being injured:

  • excessive twisting or rotating
  • excessive extension
  • and excessive flexion both laterally and forward.

So, if that is what the muscles are trying to resist, then it only makes sense to work them in a way that forces them to do just that.

Those of you at Artemis have heard us say “anti-extension” and “anti-rotation” a hundred (or thousand) times before when we’re doing core work. Those patterns have been proven time and time again to be most effective in working and strengthening the core musculature. AND, THEY ARE ALSO THE SAFEST! Doing these types of exercises will strengthen your trunk and stave off future back injuries to allow you to enjoy all the activities you want for years to come.

At Artemis, we’re always working on your core! Just about every exercise we do is working to strengthen your core as a whole. The more muscle groups involved in an exercise = more calories burned = burning fat = more definition in the core.

So, what did we learn? That sit ups and crunches actually put you at risk for back injury and the safest and most effecting way to train your core is through anti-rotational and anti-extension movements. Remember: everyone has washboard abs… some are just covered by a few loads of laundry.