Eight ways train­ing your abs im­proves your life

Men's Health (Malaysia) - - Cover Stories -

Plus, eight rea­sons why train­ing your core makes life bet­ter.


is prob­a­bly the ultimate rea­son why you suf­fer through long planks and end­less sit-ups. But along the way to that six-pack, you’ll see even big­ger ben­e­fits. Here are eight great rea­sons to stay mo­ti­vated on ab day.

1/ Own Your Sport

Core train­ing makes you a bet­ter ath­lete in just about any strength or speed sport, says Stu­art McGill, Ph.D., a pro­fes­sor of spine biome­chan­ics at the Univer­sity of Water­loo. That’s be­cause a strong core lets you trans­fer more power to your limbs so that you can punch harder, smash a drive far­ther, and kick a ball with more force.

2/ Boost Bal­ance

“A strong core keeps your torso in a more sta­ble po­si­tion when­ever you move, whether you’re play­ing sports or just do­ing chores,” says sports medicine spe­cial­ist J. Christo­pher Mendler, M.D. That helps you avoid in­jury and makes your move­ments more ef­fi­cient. Try this to test your bal­ance: stand on one leg with your arms ex­tended. If you last 60 sec­onds, you pass.

3/ Beat Back Pain

A core-train­ing pro­gramme can both pre­vent and con­trol lower-back pain, Cana­dian re­search sug­gests. If you’ve had back trou­ble, you’ll be bet­ter off do­ing core ex­er­cises that keep you still (like side planks) than moves where you fully flex your spine (like sit-ups). Side planks, bird dogs, and curl-ups are also great al­ter­na­tives. For more spine-sav­ing info, check out men­shealth.com/fit­ness/ex­er­cises-topre­vent-back-pain.

4/ Stand Taller

Core train­ing, specif­i­cally Pi­lates, can help you stand up straight. Men who took three hour-long Pi­lates ses­sions a week for eight weeks saw sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment on a pos­tural sta­bil­ity test, a study in Isoki­net­ics and Ex­er­cise Science found.

5/ Nail a Per­sonal Best

A ne­glected core is like thin ply­wood; a strong core is more like a row of beams, giv­ing you a solid plat­form from which you can lift more weight. “Keep­ing your core en­gaged through­out a squat or bench press will in­crease your power to lift, as well as keep your lower back safe,” says Liza Ede­bor, who trains Chicago Cubs pitcher Jake Ar­ri­eta. Be­gin each of your heavy strength work­outs with 10 min­utes of ded­i­cated core train­ing. (See “Fin­ish Your 6-Pack in Just 10 Min­utes” on the op­po­site page.)

6/ Move Like a Ninja

Do­ing a combo of core ex­er­cises and in­sta­bil­ity ex­er­cises, such as TRX and sin­gle-leg moves, can help you be­come more ag­ile. A study in the jour­nal Ki­ne­si­ol­ogy found that men who did these work­outs per­formed bet­ter on the hexagon agility test than those who did tra­di­tional body­build­ing moves. Try a vari­a­tion: us­ing thick tape, mark a hexagon on the floor with 60cm sides and about 120-de­gree an­gles. Place a 30cm tape strip in the mid­dle as the start­ing po­si­tion. Hit a timer. From the start, dou­ble-leg hop to each side of the hexagon and back to the cen­tre in a clock­wise di­rec­tion, equal­ing 12 jumps. Re­peat, this time go­ing coun­ter­clock­wise. You should be able to fin­ish both di­rec­tions in an equal amount of time. If you can’t, then train your weak di­rec­tion.

7/ Con­trol In­flam­ma­tion

To as­sess the ef­fect of core-in­ten­sive train­ing on in­flam­ma­tion, sci­en­tists re­viewed eight stud­ies and found that such train­ing could re­duce in­flam­ma­tion mark­ers by as much as 25 per­cent – close to the re­sult you’d see from meds like statins. That may en­hance re­cov­ery, well­be­ing and gen­eral health.

8/ Live Longer

A six-pack can keep you from go­ing six feet un­der – at least any­time soon. That’s what Mayo Clinic re­searchers con­cluded when they looked at 11 stud­ies on waist cir­cum­fer­ence. Men with waists of 43 inches or larger had a 52 per­cent greater risk of pre­ma­ture death than guys whose waists were 35 inches or smaller. Each 2-inch in­crease in waist size was as­so­ci­ated with a 7 per­cent bump in death risk.

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