Ask the Expert: Core Values

What’s the best way to get a flat stomach?

A flat, toned tummy is the Holy Grail of body parts. Who better to weigh in on the topic than Brick Bodies Padonia general manager Vicki Brick who hails from a family fitness empire——her parents co-founded Brick Bodies, one of the largest fitness chains in the state. “When my parents opened their first club in 1985, they’d throw me on the equipment, and I’d entertain myself,” says Brick. “The Stairmaster became my jungle gym and play area.”  

Why is having a strong core important?

The core is your natural girdle. It incorporates your back muscles and stomach muscles and provides support for your entire torso. Having a strong core can help take away back pain, and it’s the base of support for any movement you do——even moving your arms and legs. Core muscles fire first.

For the record, what is the proper way to do a sit up?

The traditional recommendation is to bend your knees to help provide support for your back. A lot of people place their hands behind the head, but be aware not to pull on your neck with your arms. If your hands are behind your head, think about rolling the shoulder blades off of the ground.

What are the best ab workouts?

People forget that their abdominal muscles consist of four different muscle groups, so doing only one or two exercises might not cater to all those groups. One basic exercise I like is the bicycle in which you lay on your back with your legs outstretched. Bring your knee to your stomach and rotate the opposite elbow to that knee, alternating sides. It works the rectus abdominis and internal and external oblique. You can switch your pace and intensity by varying speed. Another great exercise is the plank position, supporting the body on your toes and elbows. It helps work the transverse abdominis muscles. The focus is on sucking the belly button to the spine and feeling the engagement, keeping a straight line from the shoulders to the butt.

Any other things to consider in pursuit of a flat stomach?

People think that if you do a lot of ab exercises, you automatically get a toned, flat stomach, but, in reality, diet is a huge part of that. Focus on consuming a low-carbohydrate, low-sugar diet.

What about pursuing a six-pack?

It’s achievable but takes hard work and discipline. My 81-year-old grandma takes yoga and aerobic classes three times a week and dances with my grandfather four times a week. She might not have a six-pack, but she’s in great shape and is living a very healthy lifestyle!

What You Need:

Work toward that six-pack using these suggestions and tips.  

Lean and Mean
Eating chicken and fish will help to achieve leanness.  

Off Day
Make sure to have recovery days in between your ab workouts.  

Tummy Tuck
The bicycle or plank pose is a great way to work out the ab muscles. 

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Issue date: December, 2013
12 issues for $18!