Core Centricity: Practical Thoughts on Aesthetics, Training, and Lifestyle

 In The Everyday Athlete

What’s the first thing that enters your head when you hear the word “core”?  

You probably think of washboard abs, fitness models and a summer-ready beach body. I don’t blame you. Well-defined, washboard abs are the epitome of the conditioned body.

But it is with regret that I see many clients pursuing programs that promise six-pack abs above overall health and wellness. I have seen programs encourage trainees to essentially starve their body of nutrients in order to burn belly fat. Not only that, these programs promote the use of supplements and drugs to hurry along results.

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This “magic pill” mindset may help the trainee have this chiseled look for a day, but what’s the end goal? By focusing on movement quality, proper training cycles and skill acquisition, the Everyday Athlete trains with intention. They bring the principles of athletics to their exercise, diet and whole health regimen. They reject trendy fads that focus on appearance only. Instead, their objectives are motivated by a higher-order goal.

The Everyday Athlete focuses on the long game

It is apparent that today’s overabundance of information, which results in constant stimulation, anxiety, stress and discontent. This issue born out of our desire for instant gratification: We want what we want, and we want it right now.

Although it is not bad to want to show up to important events with your best-looking body, it is vital to understand the consequences of binge exercise and nutrition. This magic-pill mindset disregards wellness as the main goal and instead creates a mindset around poor relationships with food and exercise. Binge dieters and exercisers commonly experience the rebound effect. They work their butts off for a few months, only to gain back all their body fat and bad habits.

A well-devised fitness program should focus on an overall improvement in healthClick To Tweet

With respect to the pursuit of bodybuilding, vanity-inspired training often veils true health by encouraging the look of an athletic mannequin. Ripped muscles, low body fat and muscle symmetry are the bodybuilders goals, but what does this look like in the long run? How can one reconcile their appearance with drug use, binge exercise, crash dieting, and countless hours on the hamster wheel?

A well-devised fitness program should focus on an overall improvement in health. This approach is often a balancing act composed of self-experimentation and long-term consistency. Achieving aesthetic gains should be the result of encouraging mindfulness in nutrition, movement and habit formation—not strictly vanity.

The Everyday Athlete finds beauty in movement and health as a lifestyle

Our goal should be simple: Gain high degrees of athleticism, performance and aesthetics. All we need to do is hammer the basics. All it takes is 45 minutes of well-constructed training per day.  Any more time than is necessary is superfluous and wasteful.

The Everyday Athlete keeps on the straight and narrow. They know that to maintain and grow in their movement health they must engage in a minimalistic program that yields maximum results. They know it’s a cardinal sin to abuse exercise. Movement health is about advancing and improving your life.

Training thus becomes a lifestyle, and not a means to an end. The Everyday Athlete finds solace in walking from the far end of the parking lot and active weekend adventures. They don’t allow the mental pain of hard work to enter their vocabulary. They know that each muscle group is the sum of a greater whole. They train their body in patterns over body part splits.

The Everyday Athlete finds beauty in movement and health as a lifestyleClick To Tweet

Aesthetics are found as the result of consistency. The Everyday Athlete realizes it is easier to develop and maintain their six-pack with realistic eating standards. They do not give in to the temptation to consume lethal amounts of sugar, but see foods as a way to fuel their mind/body growth. They also develop an empowering and reasonable mindset around food. They know certain events and gatherings call for foods outside their normal healthy guidelines and they take action to pre-plan their meals and take these events in stride.

To the Everyday Athlete, “core” is a bad word

Not because core is the wrong terminology for the muscles and structure of the midsection, but because most proponents of core training tout a variety of crunches and planks as the sole training mechanisms for the midsection. This is disconcerting.

The Everyday Athlete realizes that the core is the foundation for all movement. As such, to achieve a fully functional and cohesive body, core function needs to be maintained and strengthened systematically. Training programs should emphasize working the core musculature on each training day. The demands of the movements in compound kettlebell, barbell and bodyweight exercises work the core from a rotational and anti-rotational standpoint, where as specific core conditioning exercises further train the core for better aesthetics and performance.

What about the six pack?

Six-pack musculature will appear when core function has been restored and body fat is at or below 10% for men, and 14-16% for women. Depending on your current state of fitness, it may take a few weeks—or even a few years—to attain the elusive six pack.

Remember what they say, abs are made in the kitchen. It seems that fitness industry is stuck in a model of core centricity. We see six-packs as the ultimate indicator of being in shape. The Everyday Athlete knows better than the that. The elusive structure of the six-pack is often a vain pursuit and relies heavily on genetics.

You Can't Out Exercise A Poor DietClick To Tweet

Although, the Everyday Athlete desires overall health from a movement perspective, the trainee is encouraged to maintain focus and consistency in their nutrition efforts. For best results, a whole food, paleo-style approach is my highest recommendation. My clients that have implemented a paleo diet have noticed less body fat, more lean muscle, clearer skin, better sleep and improved digestion. Remember this: You can’t out exercise a poor diet. 

Ultimately, how we choose to live our lives is up to us. But don’t forget movement health is vital since our body is the vehicle in which we experience the universe. I encourage you to discover the gift of honing your six-pack aesthetics, just make sure it’s through a love of health-in-self, and not a love of oneself.

Core Centricity: Practical Thoughts on Aesthetics, Training, and Lifestyle
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Core Centricity: Practical Thoughts on Aesthetics, Training, and Lifestyle
Here at Strength Matters, we believe that there is more to life than having that ascetically pleasing six pack. Our goal is to help everyday people become more athletic.
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