Flat, six-pack abs are hard enough to achieve when you are young. As a woman in your 60s, who has had a few kids, it might feel impossible! You may even be saying, “Core? What core?!”
Benefits of a Strong Core
A strong core will not only help you look and feel good about yourself, but it also helps improve your posture, confidence, and balance, prevents injury, and even protects your inner organs. A strong core becomes a powerhouse of muscles that protect and power your body through each day.
Moreover, building muscle mass and decreasing the fat around your midsection can reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
The Real Helper
Because it feels so hard to achieve that dream core and abs, many women are tempted by quick fixes or cleanses.
Yet the real superpower to slowing down the aging process and building your muscles is a mix of good, old-fashioned exercise and a healthy diet that fuels your body, such as lean protein, veggies, and complex carbs – skip the added sugars.
Let’s Begin Properly
Strength training keeps the body younger, stronger, and more functional as the years go by. When you feel like you’ve lost your abdominal muscles, it can be hard to understand how to engage them properly again.
The old standby is to jump right into crunches or sit-ups – isn’t that the best way to build up your core? But crunches and sit-ups can actually be dangerous for your spine as you age, causing too much pressure with repetitive flexion.
Jumping right into crunches and sit-ups without reminding your body how to properly activate the core can backtrack your results. But there is a great way to fire your core muscles so you can see results right away.
What Types of Exercises Help the Most?
Building a strong core can be broken down into three types of exercises. Just as babies learn first to crawl then walk then run, you can use the same principle when it comes to building up your core muscles.
First Step Is Stability
Starting with basic stability exercises, you can build stability in your muscles which will help to allow the deep core muscles to activate properly and work towards building a strong core and flat abs.
Examples of stability exercises are bridges, the bird dog exercise and even planks. Focus on technique and breathing with these exercises. It’s important to ensure you are firing the correct muscles, so you don’t create imbalances along the way.
Try to hold the exercises for a full exhale and breathe in on the return. Using breathing with your core exercises ensures safety and allows the abdominals to properly engage.
Time for Strengthening Exercises
Once you feel comfortable activating the muscles correctly, and your technique is good, it’s time to progress to strengthening exercises to build more muscle so you can have a strong, lean, and powerful core.
When performing strength training exercises, keep breathing, focus on technique, and aim for 8–12 repetitions and 2–3 sets of each exercise. Examples of strengthening exercises are mountain climbers, progressions of planks like adding a shoulder tap, and variations on crunches like the reverse crunch.
Add in Some Power
When you are feeling confident in your technique to engage your core muscles, and have added in strengthening exercises, you can then add some power to the mix! Power exercises add a bit of speed or more force to your motions.
These exercises help with your balance, reaction time, and even have shown more carryover into strength with your daily life. As always, proper form is key. An example of a power exercise is the woodchop exercise. This exercise gets your whole body engaged and working to build the core you are looking for.
What is the current state of your core? Have you tried doing anything to strengthen your core muscles? What were the results? Have you given up because it was taking too long to accomplish what you wanted? Please share your thoughts and experiences and let’s have a conversation!