The High Performance Handbook
Workout Guides

Getting to the Core of the Matter

“Can you pinch an inch?” That was the popular slogan once used by a cereal company to promote their product which could be used to help people lose weight. Basically, the slogan meant if you can pinch more than an inch around your abdomen, you need to lose weight. That’s not a bad rule of thumb — even in this age of heart-rate monitors, electronic body fat-reading scales and countless phone apps.

That simple pinch test can tell you quickly and easily if you’ve got some blubber to incinerate.In an effort to whittle away the fat quickly and to tighten up the midsection, some people increase the amount of abdominal work performed. In addition to the various crunches and leg raises, more exercises are added to hit the entire midsection, front and back. This area has become to be known as “the core.

”Look at any health club these days and you’ll find a “Core Class.”

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Articles in magazines and online are devoted to the importance of training your “core.” Is the trend in core training as important as everyone says it is? The answer is yes — and no. Spending time training your core is good. Strengthening the muscles of your whole mid-section — the abdominals, the muscles of the middle and lower back, the obliques and hip flexors — is important because they provide support and stability for the entire body.

If the majority of your designated workout time is devoted to core training to help lose enough weight so you can no longer pinch an inch, however, you might want to reconsider your game plan. Core training is not the most efficient way to burn fat calories and induce weight loss. It helps, but cardio training will definitely help burn the fat more quickly and efficiently.

Ridding the spare tire around one’s middle is a common goal for most people who exercise. Performing countless crunches, leg raises, twists, stretches and kicks with little visible change in the tummy can be very frustrating for many people. It can be so disheartening that people give up and say the whole exercise thing just doesn’t work; there’s too little reward for all the effort.

Don’t give up! The key might be to train your core, but don’t over-train your core. If you’re doing core training for 30 minutes or more several days per week, cut that in half – or even one-third!

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Spending 10 minutes per day, three times per week is sufficient. With the time you save from not doing excess core training, you could substitute your favorite cardio exercise. (If you don’t have a favorite, pick one you’re most apt to do.)

For core exercises, choose a variety and change them every workout. Make sure to include a form of a crunch, leg raise, twisting movement, and plank. Remember to keep your abs tight and back straight with a slight arch during many of your strength exercises with weights.  This way you can utilize your core muscles while working other muscle groups.

Another way to work your core throughout the day is to concentrate on good posture. Keep your head up and shoulders back while walking, standing and sitting. It might feel strange if you’ve never done it before, but soon the benefits will be noticeable. You’ll feel better and have less fatigue, even late in the afternoon when everyone else is slouching and getting sleepy.To recap, make sure core training is part of your exercise plan, but don’t do too much so you neglect cardio work, which will burn the fat more efficiently. And remember to sit up straight – just like your mother always told you!

Dave and Laura, the owners of the Planet Supplement Nutrition Info & Blog have both battled with weight loss issues until they finally found the plans and products that worked for them. On this website they share their experiences with you.