Our relationship to our abdominal muscles & our core can be a bit uneasy & filled with a lot of “I know I shoulds….”
We all strive for the aesthetic of flatter abs & a smaller waistline.
But the fact is, not everyone can get a 6-pack.
This is 100% based on genetics.
But everyone can develop a relationship with their core that feels supportive & helps to reduce the symptoms of stress on the body.
Training your core muscles goes deeper than crunches or planks.
So, here are 4 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Your Abs that will help you stop “shoulding” on yourself & improve the quality of your life:
Fact #1 - There are 4 layers of abdominal muscles. And the one in front (the “6-pack”) won’t shrink your waistline.
In fact, it is the deepest layers of abdominal muscle that have the biggest impact on your health & your waistline. And the ONLY way to increase strength & tone of the deep core is through HOW YOU ARE BREATHING.
Core strength is not just about what it looks like in the front. What’s more important is how it wraps around & supports your spine.
Fact #2 - Holding your abs tight, by “sucking it in,” will make your abs weaker.
This is because you are holding them in a shortened position & restricting movement. The trick to a stronger core is to have a moving & breathing midsection. And through the movement you will be able to draw the core in & support your trunk in a more sustainable way.
When the abdominals are moving with the breath this also helps to better manage intra-abdominal pressure, which will reduce indigestion, bloating & fatigue.
So please, stop sucking it in. Don’t be ashamed of your gut & try developing a mutually supportive relationship with your core instead.
Fact #3 - The vagus nerve runs directly through your diaphragm.
The vagus nerve is a superhighway that carries information back & forth from your brain & internal organs. Its ability to relay information to your internal organs has a massive impact on your digestive & immune system functions.
The vagus nerve plays a vital role in sustaining overall wellness. It is an essential part of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for calming organs after the stressed “fight-or-flight” adrenaline response to danger.
Because of its path through the diaphragm, the movement of the diaphragm helps to stimulate its functions. If you are breathing up in your chest or shoulders, you are not exercising the diaphragm properly as you breathe. This causes stiffness & tension which restricts the vagus nerve’s ability to send information between the brain & internal organs.
When the vagus nerve is stuck in a traffic jam it can cause symptoms like: poor digestion, anxiety, depression, chronic inflammation, fatigue, & so much more.
Fact #4 - Your core stores energy. This area of your body is the source of stability, creativity & personal power.
Why do you think we say “trust your gut,” or call something a “gut instinct?”
The core is like a battery, vital to your ability to function with energy & effectiveness. It includes all the machinery you need to digest, process, organize & assimilate what you take in throughout the day.
Since there’s a lot going on in there, it is an area of the body in which we are wired to protect. Think of the natural reflex to bring your knees up or to block your abdomen with your arms in a moment of danger.
Even in perceived danger there is a physiological reaction in our body that must get processed through the core. Anytime we feel unsafe, unheard or unseen we have a gut reaction & the body's natural response is to build protection.
The problems come when that protection becomes a wall of disconnection & we lose touch with our core’s ability to support our trunk.
Practicing intentional breathing is the best way to begin to restore a healthy relationship with your center. Even just 1 minute a day of diaphragmatic breathing will help to bring awareness to your abdominal muscles & their supportive powers.
These are a few things I wish more people talked about when it comes to core strength. They are essential to understanding how to use your abdominal muscles to their full potential & truly unlock your center of power.
Hi I’m Jessi,
For the past 10 years, I’ve been helping people of all ages & fitness levels reframe their relationship with movement. As a Holistic Fitness Trainer, I not only train people’s bodies, I also help them shift their mindsets to see movement as a tool for mental well being & physical vitality.
My goal is to provide accessible health & fitness content in a welcoming space. I simplify how the body works to help you stay active & injury-free.
There is no one-size-fits-all, but there are building blocks that we all can use to better understand what our body’s need, so we can design movement regimens that work for each of us.
My coaching style focuses on strong foundations of body awareness & stabilization. I combine techniques from Yoga, Pilates, Strength Training, Massage Therapy & Mindfulness to craft well thought out & customized training plans to support all clients. To read more about my certifications, click here.