For a supportive core and rock hard stomach you need to work your torso hard, regularly, and from every possible angle. Our guide to gym machines, along with Jonathan’s ‘Inner Core’ workout plan, will give you all the killer core knowledge you’ll ever need.
What is your ‘core’?
Many people think their core is just their abs. Not true. Your core muscles are actually several muscles in the abdomen, back, sides, pelvis and buttocks. They are designed to stabilise and protect your spine, wrapping deeply around it. Whether you’re pushing a trolley or playing squash, they are the centre of your body’s stability, strength and support.
Not sure what equipment to use? Here’s some ideas:
The cable machine will give you flat abs and a strong core more effectively than crunchies. Pushing and pulling the cables makes the torso muscles move with synchronicity and more naturally. Two great moves to work the abs and core are the Wood Chop exercise, and the Cable Core Press. Cable machines are really versatile for all body muscles so it’s worth getting used to them.
Most of the cable exercises can also be done with a medicine ball. In fact, weighted balls can be added to most exercises to challenge your core and improve your stability. Try these exercises for beginners or move onto more advanced exercises.
The plank is one of the best core exercises. Performing it on the balance ball raises the intensity. To maintain your balance you will be engaging more core muscles. Warning – this is tough!
To turbo-tone your obliques and transverse abdominals, make good use of weights benches at the gym. Mix and match traditional exercises like crunchies and leg lifts , with tough reverse crunchies and sideplanks. Intense but effective for your total core, as well as your back.
In fact, there’s really only two core health rules.
Eat well. Use the gym.
100 squats a day? Yikes! I think I'd better start with the beginner workout.
The core gets missed quite a lot by overeager exercisers - yet it's crucial to get it strong for a good fitness base.
The more I've learned about toning the core the better I've felt overall. Focusing on my core has seen my fitness in general improve massively - I incorporate all this equipment at some time or another and it really works!
I never got on with those inflatable exercise bals - I sometimes think all this equipment is just a way of getting people to spend more money. Luckily my gym has everything I need and using my own body as a weight at home is enough.
100 every DAY I mean!
Just doing simple exercises like squats will help your core too. it might not feel like it, but do 100 every for a week and you will notice a big difference in your core strength.
I love core workouts. It's about so much more than a flat tummy - though that's definitely a motivating factor - your posture is better and you do all sorts of other kinds of exercise more effectively if you engage your core.
Press ups - your own body weight. Just as good as any gym equipment for the core muscles. Simple
will a good solid garden bench work as a home-gym, now that the weather is finally improving? Of course I need to work my core first to clear all the weeds round it!
Good to see the core muscles being highlighted again. A strong core means better posture and better technique for other activities.
Nice to see the cable machine mentioned. I use it fairly often and find it a really effect way of working my stomach/core. Also gym benches are great and for some reason are hard to substitute at home.