Effective Training

Core Strength Vs. A Six Pack

Written By: Kripa Jalan

Core Strength Vs. A Six Pack

You’d think that having a six-pack is the epitome of a strong core. But in reality, having washboard abs isn’t necessarily an indicator of real, brute core strength.

In the midst of an aesthetically driven world, we tend to forget about the things that really matter. Strength, stability, and performance.

While there is nothing wrong with wanting or having a six pack, we might want to tweak our views on the matter. Let’s put it this way. You’ve got your 6 pack. Do you think your journey will end there? More often than not, it won’t. You will want an 8- pack. Then you’ll want the perfect V-cut. 

It’s an endless goal. Which is why we should probably start shifting focus from aesthetics to functionality, to some degree. Once we start focusing on the latter, we avoid the roller-coaster ride which comes with tying our emotions to the way we look.

So, what is the core?

It’s a group of interlinked muscles, within the trunk of the body that keeps the spine in place. The core is so much more than the obliques and abdominals.

More than the appearance, the purpose of the core is to support the spine and protect our internals. That’s why working towards a strong core is of extreme importance. We want to be fit for life, in and outside the gym. It forms the base for all functional movement, right from throwing a ball to performing a deadlift:

  • Help balance your lifts.
  • Improve posture.
  • Support other limbs.
  • Keep the spine intact.
  • Better running/lifting form.
  • Better stabilization.
  • Reduced risk of injury.
  • Strengthen upper body movements like pull-ups.

Just like having a six-pack doesn’t always indicate having a strong core, having a strong core doesn’t mean you have a six-pack. Because that answer lies in your body fat percentage. 

You see, everyone has abs.

Yes, you too!

It’s just that for several people, they’re hidden under a layer of body fat.

The extent to which your abs would “pop” depends on how low your overall body fat percentage is.

And unfortunately, you cannot spot reduce fat.

How the core controls movement:

Your core provides functional movement across all three planes of motion:

  • The Sagittal Plane – Movements up and down along a straight line. Eg. Squats
  • The Coronal Plane – Front, back and lateral movements. Eg. Lunges
  • Transverse Plain – Movements that split the body into a top and bottom half. Eg. Jack Knifes

How do I build a strong core?

(1) Core exercises:

  • GHD’s
  • Holds: Plank, Hollow, Side Plank, L-sit
  • Back extensions
  • Good Mornings
  • Strict toes to bar

(2) Compound movements:

These work multiple muscle groups at once: Thrusters, Deadlifts, Squats, Clean & Jerks

Note - Don’t overwork it: Your abs are muscles just like your biceps, so don’t work them two days in a row. Let them recover.

What about athletes and fitness models?

As far as these guys/girls go, they eat well, spend endless hours training, don’t usually drink and sleep well. The general population (including you and me,) do not do this for a living. We fall short on balancing our meals, miss workouts, don’t prioritize recovery and also enjoy that glass of wine (or three) on the weekends. And that’s okay.

For most of us health, happiness, and convenience need to coexist.

The Takeaway: A Strong Core Matters

Focus on performance. Focus on eating well, for the most part. Focus on sleep and recovery. Focus on your metabolic health and blood markers. The way you look will simply be a by-product of these little investments.