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Fit to the Core - Workout tips to best target your trunk

Style Line | April 2013

Think your core just means your abs and lower back? Well, you’d be partially right. While your core does include those two areas, it’s also made up of your upper back, hips and glutes.

“It’s really the middle part or trunk of your body,” says Becky Attard, regional group fitness leader for Life Time Fitness in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. “It’s like the pillars in a home. It’s what’s holding your body together.”

Because we use our core for so many daily functions, it’s important to keep it strong, because that strength transfers to the entire body. No wonder core training was named a 2013 emerging trend by the American College of Sports Medicine.

Ready to add some core work to your workout? Here are some tips:

Don’t Just Do Sit-ups
“This is where people tend to go wrong,” says Ken Jackson, bodybuilder, personal trainer and owner of Ken Jackson’s Fitness Factory in Shelby Township. “They do 1,000 sit-ups a day and are still overweight or their back still hurts.” Working the core means doing a variety of exercises that hit the entire area. And, if you keep your core tight while exercising the rest of the body, you also get benefits. “If you sit up straight during a chest press, that’s a core exercise,” Jackson says.

Variety Is Key
No matter what you do, change it up, says Nancy Graybill, personal trainer and owner of Nancy G Fitness, run out of Jackson’s Fitness Factory. “If you do the same thing day after day, not only do you get bored, but your body and muscles go on autopilot,” she says. “You need to keep it new, fresh and challenge yourself.” Attard recommends mixing up core classes with Pilates or yoga, both of which offer great core workouts. And if you have an intense workout, don’t forget to give your body at least 24 hours to recover.

It’s Only Part of the Package
Core workouts alone won’t give you that buff bod you’ve dreamed of having. “If you have 25 pounds to lose, [core workouts] will build core strength, but at the same time, you will have a great six-pack under layers of fat,” Attard says.“You’ve got to work on nutrition, and you’ve got to work on cardio.” According to Jackson, nutrition is 70 percent of the fitness equation, even if you work out daily. “Working out is the easy part. The hard part is eating right,” he says. “Many people don’t see their full potential because they ignore the nutritional aspect.”