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The Value of a Strong Core Over Six-Pack Abs


The Value of a Strong Core Over Six-Pack Abs by Alan Fontenot

“Let’s talk about sex, baby!  Let’s talk about you and me…….”.  Whoa, wait!!!!  Wrong article!  Sorry!  Showing my age; heard that on the radio; stuck in my head!  But now that I do have your attention………..

Let’s be honest with each other on another subject.  ABS!!!

What are Men’s Health Models Doing?

We all see the magazine models, actors, and fellow CrossFitters with chiseled midsections and think, “I want to look that!!!!!!”  The lean, chiseled out of stone look has always been eye catching and sexy.  Society places a premium on the aesthetics of the human body (not here to debate the morality of this issue).  None of these statements are breaking news for any of us.

While there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a six-pack, I think we need to change our focus to some degree.  Stay with me here!  Let’s look at why our focus needs to shift from only the aesthetic to the functional.  A strong core is way better than a six-pack!

Is it 1,000 Sit Ups or Nutrition?

First, let’s address the notion of what it takes to get a six-pack.  1,000 crunches or sit-ups a day are not the answer.  “But Alan, I want to look like the men and women I see on the cover of those magazines!”  Ok, but guess what. They don’t only do 1,000 sit-ups every day to get that super sculpted look takes a great deal of hard work.  Those men and women spend tons of time in the gym working every part of their body.  Their nutrition is so specific that they meticulously measure and weigh everything.  And here is a bit of a surprise for you, they don’t look like that every single day!  They are models.  They book a photo shoot and then work with a dietician and trainer for weeks ahead of time to get their bodies super lean to get that definition.  They drink zero alcohol.  They work out 3-4 times per day.  They sleep at least nine hours per night.  They don’t cheat on their nutrition plan (not even one bite of that pie or cupcake).  They are eating 7-9 times per day.  And one last thing they benefit from:  the magic of airbrushing!

Now, I am not taking anything away from those people.  They bust their butts and on any day of the week I would love to have most of their bodies!  You and I do not live that life.  We have full-time jobs.  We miss workouts.  We cheat on our nutrition.  We drink an occasional glass of alcohol, wink, wink.  And that is okay because our goal should be strength and not only aesthetically pleasing to the eye.  Life is short.  We need to enjoy all of those cheats.

Why a Strong Core Matters

So, get strong!!!  Know what is a wonderful byproduct of becoming strong and following a nutrition plan?  The aesthetics that we desire will happen.  (Yes, we all desire to look good naked.  One of the many benefits of CrossFit.)  What is the value of a strong core?  Good question.  “Let’s talk about sex baby……..”  Dang it!!!!  Sorry!!  Let’s look at the value of a strong core.

Your core encompasses all the muscles that surround the spine and abdominal viscera.  In other words, all the muscles from your mid-chest, mid-scapular area, and through your pelvis form your core.  The purpose of the core is to support the spine and protect our internal organs.  Thus, core training is very important.

Having a strong core will benefit you tremendously in all areas of life.  CrossFit’s main goal is to make us fit for life; to allow us to function in any environment that life throws our way.  By having a strong core, you will thrive.  Strengthening your core will increase your balance.  You will be more stable when you perform any type of lift: squats, snatch, cleans, overhead movements.  The amount of weight you can move increases.  You will become a better runner and rower because your posture will improve.  Gymnastics/body weight movements become much easier because you can hold body positions easier and longer.  The back pain from sitting at a desk all day disappears (Side note…quit sitting.  Get up frequently.  Stand to work.).  Your posture when at rest improves making you look proud and confident of the person you have diligently worked to become.

Now, hear me carefully.  Just because you strengthen your core, that does NOT mean you will see your abs.  You most likely will see some definition.  You might not look like Superman or Wonder Woman though.  It is very possible to have a super strong core but not have the superhero look.  Why?  Because being strong doesn’t automatically make you lean.  For the six-pack to pop out, you need a certain degree of lean (i.e. reduce body fat) to you.  Plus, each person’s body is built differently and responds differently.

Want to see the abs?  Great.  There is nothing wrong with that being one of your goals.  You better be working in the kitchen though!  Eating right is extremely important when it comes to “leaning up”.  Nutrition is a whole other topic that other CFA/CF28 coaches will be addressing over the next few weeks.  Plus, you need to be adding in some extra cardiovascular work.  Each of our goals and bodies are different.  Based on what you want to accomplish and how your body is built and responds to the stimuli that you provide it, you can achieve a strong core and six-pack abs.

Extra Core Work Each Week

Beginning June 22, I will be programming three core workouts per week.  These workouts will be posted on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  You may perform these before or after your daily WOD.  These workouts are designed to strengthen your core.  Each workout can be scaled by simply reducing the rep scheme and/or changing the movement.  Videos will accompany some workouts so you can see how to properly perform some of the movements and offer scaling tips.  Most of the workouts will be “Not For Time”.  If you miss a day, that is okay.  Make it up later in the week or don’t.  While most you already have a good foundation of core strength, I encourage you to check your ego at the door.  Also, give your core some rest.  It needs time to repair just like your other muscles require.

At any time if you have questions, contact me or another coach.  Any of us can help you see how best to scale something. If you see me in one of the boxes working on my core, feel free to come jump in!!!



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