The Secrets to Proper Core Training

Six pack abs, a flat stomach, NO belly fat, a small waist, thin, trim, and skinny…all words that attract us when it comes to our  mid-section.

What about proper posture, corrective work, improving muscular imbalances, reducing back and hip pain, and improving spinal function…maybe not as popular, but all can occur IF you train your “core” properly.

First, what is your core?

The core is a group of muscles that provide stability and support through the entire body.  Many of us would say the core is your abs or stomach.  True, but there is so much more.  Your core is made up of your ABS which include your external obliques, internal obliques, rectus abdominis, and transversus abdominis.  The core is also made of your hip muscles (glute medius, maximus, minimus, and psoas) and your lumber spine muscles (erector spinia, Multifidus spinae, quadratus lumborum, lower lats).   Some texts books will even consider the rotary cuff of your shoulder and  your neck as part of your core as they both have a direct effect on how your mid section operates and creates stability.

So now that you know what muscles you need to work to provide proper stability and support for your body, how should you train your abs?

Can you train your core everyday?

Well, Yes and No.

Yes, as long as you train different parts of your core on different days.

An example would be:

Day 1 *Lower abs and hips (Rectus Abdominis and transverse abdominus)

Day 2  Obliques and low back

Day 3 *Upper abs (rectus abdominus)

*Although we actually don’t have a separate upper and lower ab muscle, the Rectus Abdominis (or your six pack) is divided into a lower and upper abdominals at the belly button.  Since it has eight sources of nerve innervation  the single muscle can be stimulated many different ways, thus can actually be worked like 2 different muscles.

Your Core area is like any other musculature, you should NOT train ALL of it every day.  It needs at least 48 hours of  rest and recovery. Therefore, if you are doing crunches EVERY day, you are more than likely creating an imbalance and over training your abdominals.  In addition, if you are doing crunches on the ground you are missing 1/2 the movement.  You need to get off the ground and onto a stability ball, with the added extension, you will get far greater range of motion.

Another mistake most people make when training the core is that they only focus on the front side of their bodies and not the back.  They do tons of abdominal exercises and nothing for the low back.  Doing hyperextensions, prone cobras, dead lifts, bent over rows and low rows are essential for a strong core.  To keep a body in balance the back and the front should be trained synergistically.  If not, you may show a 6 pack of abs but your posture will suffer and so will your back!

If you do decide to train ALL your core muscles in one day, train them like this:

  1. Hips
  2. Low back
  3. Lower abs( train low abs first  since they are usually the weakest)
  4. Obliques
  5. Upper abs

Below are some specific CORE exercises for each area:

  1. Hips:

Squats, step ups, lunges, dead lifts, hip lifts, leg kick backs, bridges

2. Lower back:

Hyperextensions, Lat pull downs, dead lifts, prone cobra, reverse hyperextension

3. Lower Abs:  Anything that involves flexion of the hip.  *Heel drops ( lay on back, legs are at 90 degree angle, lower heels to ground), *Leg drops (more advanced) lay on back, extend legs straight into air, lower to ground, knees to chest ( lay on back roll knees into toward your chest, reverse crunches (lay on back, legs straight in air, raise heels to sky). *make sure lower back stays on ground. 

4.  Obliques:anything that offers rotation of the mid section or side flexion. ie. Side to sides( sit on ground, sit back, and rotate middle from side to side), Bicycles ( laying on back a crossing opposite knee to elbow, alternate every other side, Side planks with flexion(side plank, raise hip to sky).

5. Upper Abs  All flexion of the torso or isometric hold, ie. Stability ball crunches, Planks, Cable crunches( need a cable machine) stand or knee in front of cable machine, rope behind neck, crunch through waist.

Training your core is essential for staying healthy, strong and balanced.  It is your bodies center and needs YOUR attention!

Your Optimal Health Coach,


  1. To get the best results with the visual look of your core, make sure you follow a healthy diet.  Core exercises will make you stronger, more stable and improve back and pelvis function, they will NOT spot reduce!


Scientific Core Training, Paul Chek

Scientific Back Training, Paul Chek

How to Eat, Move and be Healthy, Paul