Think deeper than the summer 6-pack …. Transverse Abdominis
By Meg Caprio
February Core in 1.0 is particularly wonderful and grueling for me…. While some may say, “Oh everyone says that about every workout each month” I do feel as though some exercises are more/less challenging than others for various reasons for each individual. And for me, there is not one single “break” in the core action this month, there is not one exercise that I can zone out through, or lose focus for a rep, or not give max effort.
Let's look at the anatomy first: Our core, in very general terms, has a few layers. That ‘6 pack” you think of in the very front that runs up and down is the Rectus Abdominis. The internal and external obliques are pretty easy to see/feel too. But the deepest abdominal muscle that runs across and wraps around like a girdle is the Transverse Abdominis. Every exercise this month requires laser focus on the transverse abdominis.
When the transverse abdmonis is weak or weakened one of the results can be lower back pain. Your transverse abdominis can also be weakened or separated resulting from pregnancy — Diastastis Recti. (2 out of 3 women who have had 2+ babies have this separation.) Count me in on that group! And I know many of us Burnin Fam moms could all use strengthening of this deep muscle and even those who aren’t mamas, need to get the ultimate core muscle strong!
Some very simple tips to help focus in during this (and ongoing months) CORE:
Starting at the top … keep your head, neck, shoulders and chest up, with your eyes looking over your feet at the mirror. Then, take big, even, breaths, inhaling and exhaling, pulling your belly button way way in, and pressing your lower back into the mat. Squeeze up your feet and pull your belly button up and in, not letting your legs and hip flexors do all of the work. Think of your stomach like a vacuum and pull it all in… lifting your head/neck/shoulders/chest helps! Think of making the space between your chest and hip bones as short as possible with constant tension.
2 examples: Knee Pulls - start from the top down ...head, neck, shoulders and chest up and looking over your toes, and keep your heels as close to the ground as possible pushing your lower back into the mat then squeezing your knees into your chest. On the return, stay in constant tension, down stretch all the way back to the ground, keep everything contracted. And on the scissors and flutter kicks, same thing, keep your upper body up and eyes looking over, pull your belly button all the way down and then pick up your legs and feet.
Nope, not easy! But your aren’t in a race, you are working on yourself! And you deserve time and attention and focus. So rest when you need it and protect your back and push through so that ‘dome’ stays in. The effort will be worth it as your entire body hinges on your core strength. Think of each exercise this month, from start to finish, every rep, and remember those steps.
I hope this helps, as we all learn from each other, and Guru Rich taught and helped me with these too! And remember to ask us questions if you think something isn’t feeling right or if you need help.
Cheers to a strong Core Burn Fam!