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It’s not about six-pack abs… Get more out of your core workout with this breathing pattern

Six-pack abs seem to be a general goal, but they shouldn’t be.

Women are getting it wrong. We should be focused on our stomach, but not on the way it looks.

Studio 5 Fitness contributor Emily Nelson shares how to go hardcore on our core from the inside out.


What is the Core?

Your core is a group of muscles that wrap around your spine, hips, and belly. They are your stabilizing muscles, and they make sure everything stays balanced and safe.

“The core is made up of all different things. Your diaphragm, your lower back extensors, your pelvic muscles actually play a huge part…. that’s all your core,” Emily explained.

“Any movement that you do, if you do not have a strong core, you will feel in other places,” she said.

You’ve probably seen everywhere people that promise six-pack abs if you just do this, or eat that, but Emily says that is not what our focus should be.

“We should not be focusing on the aesthetic look of the abs. We want to be hardcore from the inside out, rather than try to achieve this aesthetic look that just isn’t achievable for the masses,” Emily emphasized.

Core Breathing Pattern

Emily said breath work makes a big difference in core exercise.

“Any time you are pushing through a move, you want to breathe out like you’re blowing out a candle to engage the abdominals,” Emily instructed.

Anytime you’re doing core strengthening exercises – dead lifts, squats (yes, squats!) – take a deep breath, expand the ribs, and as you push through that move, exhale.

“You don’t have to do just core exercises to work those muscles. It’s about focusing on the core when you’re working all your different muscles,” Emily explained.

Core Exercises

Before you start any core exercises, Emily said to make sure you have a neutral pelvis. She explains this with the blueberry analogy.

“Pretend like you have blueberries lined you down your spine. Push down and smash them. The second you do that, you feel your lower abs engage and you get a neutral pelvis,” Emily demonstrated.

  1. Single Leg Lifts: Lay on the ground with your knees up and feet placed on the floor. While breathing and pushing the entire core down, bring one foot up at a time, bringing the knee no further than your hip joint.
  2. Bridge: Start laying on your back, knees up with feet on the floor. Slow and controlled, lift, tuck your pelvis up, and roll, vertebrae by vertebrae, all the way to the top. As you come down, keep it slow and think about every vertebrae.
  3. Bird Dog: Start on all fours. Extend your opposite arm, opposite leg. As you do, make sure you aren’t arching your back. As you bring that arm and leg back, crunch them in. Stay on one side, then do the other side, or, switch off every other.
  4. Plank: Planks are a full body core move. Emily said she would do planks over sit ups any day. Start on your knees or your toes, depending on your difficulty level. Hold that position. Make sure you are keeping joint over joint, so shoulder over elbow or wrist, depending on where you’re at. Additionally, don’t drop or raise your glutes.

Find more fitness advice from Emily on Instagram, @highfitnessemily.

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