Making the Connection

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The Secret to a Flat Stomach

I am frequently asked, “How do I get abs like yours?” The answer is simple, I activate them. Having a flat stomach or a 6 pack seems to be a primary focus for many people.

Let’s talk about what is really important: Connecting to your functional core.

You would never attempt to build a house by starting with an unstable foundation. Over time, no matter how strong the house you build is, there will be cracks in the already weak foundation and something will eventually buckle. Our bodies are the same way. Think of your foundation as your core. Your core includes all of the muscles in your body’s trunk. There are a lot… Having a flat stomach or a 6 pack does not equal a strong core, but building a stronger core may contribute to that flat stomach or 6 pack!

It’s the job of the core to stabilize, support, and protect your shoulder girdle, pelvis and spine. Without core muscles we would not be able to stand up or even walk around. It is the core muscles that are chiefly responsible for shifting our body weight and controlling functional movement, while protecting our back from weight-bearing stress.

The best path forward to building functional strength for your entire body begins by strengthening the internal core muscles that work to stabilize and support the entire body. Not to mention the added benefit of making you less susceptible to injury down the road.

Our bodies change as a side effect.

As our maturity and awareness develops, we start to realize that it’s not what you see in the mirror that matters so much. Having a strong core has nothing to do with how many sit ups you can do for an extended period of time. Having a strong core is about being able to CONNECT with your abdominals and knowing you have created the proper pathways of activation, so as (did I say psoas?) to avoid other, stronger parts of your body from taking over. Body awareness is your best tool to understanding your own personal movement patterns and assists in providing the possible corrections you need to make to improve the mind-muscle connection.

One great way to learn to connect and develop your body awareness is through instructor-led Pilates training. Everything in our bodies work as a whole and Pilates focuses on the art of controlled movements. A primary focus for Pilates is in teaching you how to identify and isolate the muscles of the lower abdominals… your “power-house”.

Although I’d love to see you in my Pilates program, I’d also like to help you start connecting with your core right now.  Try the following this simple technique to begin connecting and activating some of the key muscles of your core.

You can start by simply sitting, standing or lying down in a way that your pelvis is neutral.  Take a breath in, and on the exhale, begin to draw your lower abdominals and pelvic floor up and in. Hold this gentle contraction while you breathe normally for 10-15 seconds and release. Repeat for 4-6 repetitions but focus on a relaxed neutral posture. Focus on connecting your mind to your lower abdominals as well.

Once you get the hang of it while standing or lying still, start to incorporate this connection into everyday movements, activities and workouts. See how engaging your internal core muscles affect your stability and strength!

Think about what is important to you. Not only does having a strong foundation of core improve your sport or game but it will enhance your overall quality of life: from changing the water jug, to managing an awkward bag of groceries, to even picking up your kids or grandkids.

Improve your connection with your core and see how it benefits you in every area of your life!

If you’d like to learn more and take this knowledge further, I’d love to work with you in one of our upcoming Registered Pilates Programs as well!  Ask a member of the Urban Athlete team for details on my 4 week programs starting in January.

Yours in Health!

Wendy Peterson

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