A few months ago, I picked up a new class at LVAC…a 30 min Core class. On Monday, Core will partner up with my new friend, Tabatha…and become the solution to my personal dilemma.
I used to teach a similar format at Gold’s, but either I didn’t understand then what I understand now…or I didn’t question it. Now I do, which leads to feelings of conflict…do I give members what they think they want? Or do I give them what they actually want? So, I’ve been starting nearly every Core class acknowledging my dilemma and asking the following three key questions:
- Who is here to strengthen their core?
(Most hands go up. Several members glancing around to make sure.)
- Who is here to shrink their waistline?
(All hands shoot up. Several members nodding.)
- Who is here to add (muscular) width to their waistline?
(No hands go up. Several members shaking their heads NO emphatically.)
Great. Head to one side of the room and start your first pass of walking lunges…
Knowing what people wanted (abdominal fat loss) allowed me to teach the class differently and to explain. Abdominal exercise is not congruous with abdominal fat loss. This becomes obvious when you acknowledge that body fat cannot be spot-treated. Nowhere. Not ever.
The confusion may partly stem from the fact that we can spot-treat (build) muscle. More so, though, I think it is the preponderant visual stimuli — i.e. everyone doing abdominal exercises at the gym often holding plates and targeting obliques, that is in direct conflict with their abdominal goals…a.k.a. Hello inches to the waistline. The herd mentality overlooks the fact that muscle and fat are two different fibers. One doesn’t become the other. It’s either increase or decrease…and most people have a hard time doing both simultaneously (i.e. increasing muscle while decreasing body fat).
I gave up my Abs classes once I got to the national stage of Bikini Division competition…because my trainer asked me to! Another trainer encouraged me to wear a squeem (corset / torture device / organ compressor) so I could atrophy my abs.
Atrophy: A wasting away or diminution. Muscle atrophy is a decrease in muscle mass, often due to extended immobility. (MedicineNet.com)
First of all, realize fitness and bodybuilding are not usually synonymous! Secondly, realize that core strength is extremely important in achieving our fitness goals. As the name suggests, core…this is our foundation…every exercise should begin with a conscious bracing or engagement of the core muscles. It creates the “good” tension…stability. It also prevents injuries and improves our alignment, posture…and even the appearance of a smaller waistline.
Muscle mass is also extremely important in achieving our fitness goals. Not only is muscle “tighter”, it is metabolically active. This means we increase our calorie burn the 22-23 hours a day that we are not working out.
Building muscle around the core will add inches to your waistline unless diet and workout intensity are part of the equation. I’m known for calling out the no breakfast or banana-only members in my 10:15am BodyPump because I know that small dietary changes repeated over time will have a more dramatic impact in the fat loss department than any exercise I can show you. Starting Monday, I will continue to refine the intensity side of the equation, so we can move closer toward our fitness goals…core strength and fat loss.
Bring a towel and a water bottle…because you’re going to sweat. A yoga mat if you like…or we have blue Styrofoam mats that will work for the floor exercises. Then, I will introduce you to Tabatha…she’s like TABATA*, but she insists on technique before intensity.
*TABATA is a method of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), which is trending in the fitness industry, because it’s exciting and challenging. A traditional TABATA drill is 4:00 minutes; 8 rounds of :20 seconds of work followed by :10 seconds of recovery. IGNITE® follows the TABATA system of timing. The traditional goal is for the student to push themselves into an anaerobic zone early in each drill and continue to work to muscular fatigue.
Read more about IGNITE® here.