More Than Washboard Abs: Why Training Your Core Is Important

Top tips for killer abs!

By Olivia Lim        23 June 2022

Every man wants to have them, but they’re not so easy to attain. We’re talking about washboard abs – those taut, toned killer mid-sections with the defined lines that speak volumes of hours of hard work in the gym and a strict, disciplined diet.

But cosmetic reasons aside, why is it important to have a healthy core? We speak to Keith Osmond Pereira, a Fitness Trainer at EnergyOne who has 25 years of experience, on why ab workouts are crucial for your overall fitness, and the best way to train your abs.

Q. Aside from cosmetic reasons, why are ab workouts important?

Keith: Ab workouts strengthen the muscles around the spine and improve your posture and stability as the body’s weight is correctly distributed. Having good posture is key to increasing confidence and maintaining a healthy spine.

Q. What’s the best way to “get” toned abs? Is it about repetition, cardio or strength training?      

Keith: While cardio is effective for weight loss and maintenance, you should focus your efforts on weight training to develop the muscles in your midsection. Cardio exercises such as running engage your core muscles for stability, but for your muscles to grow, you should perform resistance training for the best results.

In order to get optimum results and a toned body, shedding body fat as well as strength training is the best way to tone. Training with resistance and doing between eight and 12 repetitions is best for most. On top of this, a reduced calorie intake is required to reduce fat.

Example of side oblique crunches.

Q. What kind of ab workouts can I do at home to stay in shape?   

Keith: These three bodyweight exercises are perfect for setting your abs on fire!

  • Single leg v-up. Even though this exercise is a regression to a normal v-up, don’t underestimate its power. It targets the entire core region (upper and lower abs).
  • Side plank oblique crunches. This dynamic plank variation will hit your oblique (side abs) hard. 
  • Mountain climbers – these target the lower abs where most of the flab is.

Q. What happens if I neglect working out my abs?   

Keith: If you don’t train your abs, or more accurately don’t do exercises that focus on the abs….nothing adverse will happen. Fact is, your core is used in just about every exercise you do. 

Q. If I only focus on doing a lot of ab workouts, will it make my back weaker?   

Keith: Developing strong abdominal muscles may actually help prevent back pain by making you less prone to back injuries and teaching you proper spinal alignment. Many people have back pain – whether it’s upper back pain or low back pain – and this may be partly caused by weak abdominal muscles.

Q. What are some common mistakes gym goers make when it comes to ab workouts?

Keith: Some common mistakes include the following:

A poor diet: “Abs are made in the kitchen,” as the old saying goes. It doesn’t matter how strong your core is; if you’re carrying too much body fat around your belly, your abs will never show.

Fix: If you want to drop body fat, eat healthy, whole foods and aim for a daily caloric deficit of 500 calories. Choose lean sources of protein, lots of veggies, whole carbs and root vegetables on your workout days

Not increasing intensity: How long should you hold a plank for? 30 seconds? 60 seconds? Several minutes? The truth is, if you can hold a good plank for at least 1 minute, it’s time to find something more challenging (instead of just holding it for longer).

Fix: Use all the tools in your gym to crank up the intensity. Stability balls, ab wheels and even the TRX can help you blast your abs for the stimulus they need to get stronger and more muscular.

Training every day: Some people train their core every day because they want better results, faster. But like any muscle group, if you train your abs everyday, they’ll fatigue and struggle to recover.

Fix: Make sure to take days off throughout the week to rest your core and allow it to rebuild muscle fibres and adapt. Depending on the intensity, you only need to train your abs 3 to 4 times a week, at the most.

Q. How can a personal trainer help with my ab workouts?

Keith: A personal trainer knows how to structure abdominal workouts. Doing so could help reduce the chances of injury. Some sources suggest working the abs at high reps every day, but that approach could set the stage for a muscle pull or worse. A trainer would guide you from performing such extreme workouts.

From 1 July to 30 September 2022, receive up to 50% Added Value when you use NS55 *credits to sign up for an EnergyOne gym membership:
(Silver Membership) New Sign Ups – 33% Added Value: Sign up 9 months FREE 3 months
(Term Membership) New Sign Ups – 50% Added Value: Sign up 6 months FREE 3 months
Silver Renewal – 33% added Value: Renew 9 months FREE 3 months

*Minimum usage of $50 credits

Want more fitness articles like this, and other lifestyle content right in your inbox? Sign up for the eNSman Newsletter – you don’t need to be a SAFRA member to subscribe – and never miss another story!