This is always a popular idea: get better abs!
But here’s the bitter truth. The workout culture might be lying to you. Sometimes the advice you get isn’t serving you as well as you might think.
Always keeping your abs on, always holding in your belly in a bit… that’s no different than always holding your fist a little but clenched for a stronger hand. Sometimes you need to do other important things with your hands and sometimes you need to do more important things with your core muscles!
A strong muscle can fully contract, fully stretch, and fully relax. A healthy muscle acts reflexively, which means it does what’s needed in the moment. The way to get better abs isn’t to just keep doing more crunches.
Most of us have habits of holding unnecessary tension in our core for lots of different reasons. (Check here for my rant on cultural pressures on women and why relaxing your belly is a revolutionary femininst act!)
This exercise tutorial gives you a series of moves to explore how much un-needed tension you might be holding that gets in the way of your best, most functional core. Do it every day for a week and see how you feel.
Are your abs more responsive? Does your back move more easily? Is your breathing smoother and less strained? Do you feel more energetic and better able to move through your day with flow and ease? When we want to get better abs, better core function, it’s all about how you move and feel every day, not about how you can do one specific exercise.
You might not feel all (or any!) of those things, you might feel something else or no difference at all. It’s all good. But chances are you don’t usually do this kind of work and novelty is amazing for your body and your brain, so give it a go!
I’m the owner of Boomerang Pilates and creator of the Move SMART program. I teach teachers how to incorporate sustainable movement and authentic teaching in their classes.