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The newest trend in fitness focuses on “core conditioning”—training the muscle groups
By Stephen Hanks
In last July’s first-ever Energy Times Men’s Health Issue, our Personal Trainer department advised guys with ballooning beer bellies on how to start trimming the fat. After all, when carrying excessive body lard—especially around the midsection—can lead to health woes such as type 2 diabetes or even heart problems, it behooves men to embark on at least a beginner’s program of cardiovascular and weight-training exercises. Since we’re confident that ET is your health and nutrition bible, we’re sure you took all of the advice in “Time For a Gut Check” to heart and you’ve gotten yourself into pretty good shape. Now it’s time to move to the next level.
The latest—and in our opinion most sensible—trend on the fitness scene is “core conditioning.” What and where is the core? It’s not just your abdominal muscles (the proverbial “six pack”) or your lower back, but the trunk of your body—defined as everything except for your arms, legs and head. According to Patrick S. Hagerman, EdD, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Core Conditioning Illustrated (Alpha/Penguin) the core “is what allows you to move. It’s the part of your body to which everything is attached and from which every movement is controlled. No matter what you are doing—sitting in a chair, pushing a grocery cart down the aisle, playing with your kids or throwing a ball—your core muscles are involved.”
Since most core conditioning exercises (and there are more than 100, combining beginner and advanced routines) involve stretching, repetitive sets and the use of either your own body weight, stability balls (as you can see in the exercises here) or light medicine balls, core training is like cardiovascular exercise and weight training combined. Hagerman says that core conditioning “is about working those muscles that can improve your weight-training workout.” But unlike with weight training “you won’t necessarily see the results of core training in the mirror because most of the muscles you use are deep inside the body and are covered by other bigger muscles.” Think about it—what would you give to strengthen and eliminate the pain in those lower back or hip muscles you can never really pinpoint?
We want to help get your back and your hips and your glutes and your abs—and your whole body—in great shape, so here we offer a few basic core conditioning exercises to get you going. We bet that after a few weeks of doing these routines you’ll be feeling healthy all the way to your core.
No, it’s not a new protein shake flavor, it’s a combination of an ab crunch and a reverse crunch, and it works both the upper and lower abdominal muscles. It’s also a good exercise for th...