Fundamentals Of Core Aesthetics
Core training is made out to be a little more complicated than it really needs to be. Often asked questions such as, “Can I train them every day?”,”Why can’t crunches get me where I want to be?”, Along with many others, pop up sporadically leaving most of us wondering, Are we approaching our efforts as consciously as we possibly can? After all, who really wants to be working tediously at a task with no little to no return on investment? Not me.
These are a few guidelines that I have found to create great autonomy in my life and training, without having to overcomplicate things. After all, there is no “perfect program”. Every body is different, with various daily habits, work, tendencies, stressors and movement patterns that can halt progress or even worse, become a detriment. By keeping these in mind you should be able to become as creative as possible and yield some impressive results.
Core Aesthetic Guidelines
1. Recruit more muscles into your movements.
I love isolated training as much as the next meathead, but to achieve a lean and aesthetic midsection you should refrain from reliance upon traditional crunches, as they do the lower back no good and in my eyes, are just flat out boring. Incorporating multiple units in tandem not only makes for a more engaging workout but also has profound effects on cognitive function, joint and fascial health, and even more importantly increased caloric expenditure/metabolic efficiency. By placing your body through various planes of motions and incorporating variables such as balance and strength, you are providing your body a new type of information, thus yielding a different result as it is forced to mitigate force throughout the midsection.
Some examples that will indirectly train your core but yield great results:
- Squat to Curl
- Windmill push ups
- Single leg reverse crunch (Laying or hanging)
- Squat to press
- DB Pullover to Hip Thrust
- Lunge to crunch
- Lateral squat to DB press
2. Less is more
Rather than spending a mindless 40 minutes knocking out an obscure amount of volume, try extending the duration of each movement over the span of 4-5 seconds to increase its quality. Weights are not always needed for direct core work, where in my experience I have found bodyweight direct exercises do the waistline the most favor. Aesthetics are in part illusionary, and no I do not mean that I know a magic trick to get you abs. What I mean by this is that by creating a smaller waistline and broader shoulders, or creating drastic differences in one area in relation to another, it can give more of a dramatic, chiseled look. When focusing on increasing time under tension, keep in mind to work for the group at hand through its entire range of motion for the initial sets, then partial repetitions can have their place to keep variability there.
- Try performing a hanging or laying double knee raise, spending 2 seconds on the ascent (raise), 1 second isometric (contraction), 2-second descent (lowering).
- By increasing the quality of your movement, you are directly increasing the quality of your aesthetic.
- Partial repetition: From a fully extended position, go through the first half of the motion at the same tempo as previously stated. Do so for as many as tolerable, then proceed to go from the 1/2 range of motion point to full contraction. By doing so you will have worked for the group in two different ranges and have altered the amount of tension applied as well as your bodies ability to mitigate that force.
This does not justify partial bar squats, fellas.
This concept can be applied to any group of the body, assuming good tissue health.
3. Eat more raw foods
Taking into account the amount of raw versus cooked foods you are consuming within your diet can do a great benefit to not only your waistline but also overall gastrointestinal tract health. This by no means go and eat medium-rare chicken. Much nourishment is dissipating from your food as you consistently pan fry/ bake/ microwave them or other foods that can be consumed raw. Depleting these essential nutrients may very well become a detriment to your overall health and your body’s ability to grow and repair. Foods that require more enzymatic activity and energy from the digestive system not only take longer to process but also have a halting effect on our energy levels if we are becoming nutrient deficient. The human system is a system of homeostasis and balance, and by increasing demand for energy in one system, an equal effect will occur by having less to give in another. Eating 3 burgers may not seem too bad until you are searching within to use some energy stores for your reproductive system later tonight. Keep some balance within your plate, you’ll thank me later.
4. Metabolic training
Many of us associate a treadmill, stair master or bike to be involved when we hear the word “cardio”, often causing us to flee the other way. Cardio, short for cardio-respiratory activity, by definition, is any bout of exercise that increases the rate at which our heart demands and pushes new blood for a sustained period of time. While the mind may be discriminative to cardio machines, the heart does not discriminate, as long as it is working. Once this concept is understood we can be as creative as we want with our movements, work/ rest periods, all while still receiving the benefit of reducing our waistline and promoting a healthier core. Not only does metabolic activity increase tissue health but it also promotes hormone balance, mitigation of fluid within the tissue to prevent visceral adhesions (organ disease) and much more integral functions of the body.
Some of my preferred methods of cardio:
- Playing sports (with great effort of course)
- Biking to proximal locations rather than driving
- Playing with my dogs
- Running a scenic path
Preferred variables to incorporate into training
- 30 on 30 off: 30 seconds on(work) seconds off (rest) for 30 minutes with any exercise
- AMRAP (as man rounds as possible: To be performed with a moderate load, with 4-5 different exercises for 2-3; 8-minute bouts. Keep track of rounds to compare your progress
- 4Q Metcon: a selection of 4-8 exercises, each varying in movement nature, touching on calisthenics, hypertrophy, strength and power through 4 different categories. Linear (Loaded or Unloaded) Multiplanar (Loaded or Unloaded) 45- 60 seconds each exercise can qualify as a metabolic conditioning program.
Some exercises to include in these programs:
- Ground 2 Standing drills: Turkish Get-ups, KB Up downs, Burpees; DB Kneel to standing
- Power drills: Med ball rotation throws, Med ball slams, DB thrusters; Box Blaster jumps; Landmine Jammers
- Hypertrophic drills: Squat to Curl; Hanging knee raises; Staggered stance rows; Staggered Military press; DB Bulgarian split squats; Overhead Bulgarian split squats
- Metabolic: Stiff leg touch and go box jumps; toe to box alternate foot; Alternating leg lunge jumps; shuttle runs; sled pushes; sled rows
The variables of these drills can each be manipulated to become more hypertrophic, more metabolic, or more power oriented. My purpose for listing them is more so their intended nature.
I hope you can utilize this information to your best interest. Thank you for reading!