Tips For Strengthening Your Abs

sideplankbCore Conditioning is critical to your overall health but it’s more than just your abs! It encompasses your abs, your back, your hips and pelvis muscles. Your core is your powerhouse and when it’s functioning correctly, it acts as an internal girdle holding you strong and stable as you move.  When your core is weak, you move inefficiently, out of alignment and without power and grace. In addition, a weak core is a sure way to experience injuries, aches and pains throughout your entire body including back, knees, and hips.

There are literally hundreds of different core conditioning exercises including various forms of planks, v-sits, crunches, and various other stabilization and movement type exercises. Which is the best exercise for your core? There really isn’t such a thing. Instead focus on following these guidelines to develop a strong and functional core.

Guidelines for Developing an Effective Core Conditioning Program:

When deciding which exercises and how many and how often you’ll perform, follow these tips:

  • Use a variety of exercises to ensure a balanced musculature including spinal rotation, flexion, extension, and stabilization.
  • Use a variety of exercise sequences.  Mix up the order of the exercises.
  • Spend more time training stabilization and less time training movement (ie less crunches and sit-ups)
  • Use a variety of contractile speeds. Use some fast and some slow movements.
  • Use a variety of tools to add fun and diversity to your program (exercise balls, medicine balls etc)
  • Use inclines and declines of benches to increase or decrease the intensity of movement to ensure proper execution of movements.
  • Train these muscles 3-4x/week. Remember, the abdominal and back musculature are striated, skeletal muscles.  They’re under voluntary control and behave just like any other muscle.  Therefore, the work:rest training principles are similar to any other muscle group.  You do not need to isolate your abs every day to get results
  • Finally, remember that spot reduction is a myth. Abdominal exercises do not get rid of fat from your abdominal region.  There is no direct metabolic pathway from your muscle cells in your abdominal area to the fat cells surrounding them. For any muscle to use stored fat for energy, your body must first send the stored fat to the liver. The liver converts this fat into fatty acids and then sends it to the muscles to be used as fuel. Unfortunately, the fat that the abdominal muscles use may not be from the fat in the abdominal region. In fact, it’s possible that the energy to perform an abdominal exercise may come from fat stores in your arms! Localized fat mobilization is dependent on genetics. The key to reducing fat in around your stomach is a program that includes regular cardiovascular exercise, muscle-conditioning exercise and good nutrition – and of course, patience!

Yours in health & fitness,
Sherri McMillan

scary run 2016Join us for our Scary Run – Half Marathon, 10k & 5k
Oct. 29th in Washougal, WA
This race is a fun, costume-themed run/walk. Although titled ‘Scary Run’ your costume doesn’t need to be scary. Be creative and dress in any costume you like as long as you can comfortably and safely run and walk. Feel free to get together with friends and come up with a fun costume theme.


Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan, holds a master's degree in exercise physiology and has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for more than 33 years. She has received numerous industry awards including 2010 CanFitPro International Presenter of the Year, 2006 IDEA Fitness Director of the Year, 1998 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, 1998 CanFitPro Fitness Presenter of the Year and 2005/2006 ACE Fitness Educator of the Year - Runner up. She is a fitness trainer, fitness columnist for various magazines and newspapers, author of five books and manuals including "Go For Fit - the Winning Way to Fat Loss" and "Fit over Forty" and the featured presenter in various fitness DVDs. She has presented hundreds of workshops to thousands of fitness leaders throughout Canada, Australia, Mexico, Jamaica, New Zealand, Germany, England, Spain, South America, Asia and the U.S. She is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver, the founder of WHY Racing Events & WHY Community, participates in various community fundraisers and can be found running, biking, or hiking around the community. Find more information at

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