Core Focus

Four years ago, I coached a morning gym class at RowFit CrossFit for Noble Street High School students. Noble Street splits up gym classes by gender. So I had girls two days a week, and boys two days a week. At the beginning of the semester, I handed out mini log books and asked them to write their fitness goals on the first page. In reading these goals, I was very surprised to find that both the girls and the boys primarily wanted to work on their core. Well, the girls wanted flat stomachs, and the boys wanted a six-pack.

Ab Work

Desiring an improved waistline and defined core is very common. The great thing about it is your stomach is called you core for a reason – it can be used as a stabilizer for everything you do. Try walking and tightening your abs at the same time. You’ll notice it pulls your shoulders back and generally provides better posture. Take it to the gym and notice how much easier push-ups are if you concentrate on tightening your abs on both the decent and ascent.


Work It

I also had the Noble kids write down some activities they hoped we would do during the semester. I got a bigger variation there, but noticed a lot of them put rowing and running. Then, when we did these things in the form of interval training where they had to switch between all out efforts and rest, they weren’t as excited. I believe they wanted something they could do for 30 minutes, but not work too hard at.

We all know rowing and running is hard, but it is also only as hard as you make it. My kids wanted to just go through the motions.
lyfthero4I was coaching a gym class, so a major aspect I contendedwith was that the participants are looking for an A, not necessarily improved fitness. That said, my Noble kids are not alone in thinking that it’s enough to move around for a set period of time. It is a common misconception that you get a good workout by going through the motions (ever see someone on the treadmill reading a book?). Maybe that means letting your hamstrings go slack during squats, flopping down and snaking up during push-ups – basically expecting the movement to work you.

To get the most out of your workout you need to work the movement.

For example, a few weeks ago, I was working out with some friends, and my training partner beat me. We were doing thrusters and sit-ups. I did that WOD without taking the smallest of breaks – complete sprint. And I’m shorter than her, so I had a very slight advantage (less distance to cover). So I asked our other friends who were there why she beat me, and was told that during thrusters I was active getting the weight overhead, but passive in letting it come back down. She was pulling it down so it would move faster. My training partner was working the movement to the extreme.

I see this same phenomenon in the warm up. People will do movements I find straining with ease. So I try doing them without being tight and realize they are completely disengaged. Flopping your arms out in the shapes we are showing you during Y-T-W-L does not stretch the shoulders. Try creating tension in the arms, and then moving through Y-T-W-L and you will feel the stretch.

You have to work all movements, including your warm up


Moving fast from station to station in the WOD, using your legs to push hard and your stomach to stabilize yourself on the erg – that’s working it! You could do the same workouts, but move slowly from station to station, leave your muscles loose during the specific movements, push against the erg only as much as needed to complete the stroke when rowing – that’s expecting the movement to work you.

Getting back to the core – every workout can be an ab workout, but you have to work the movement. Activate your abs in everything you do and you’ll see results. In addition, you’ll have better form, and likely hit some PR’s.

If you are coming to Lyft regularly, going through some hard workouts, getting proper nutrition and rest, and not seeing results – pay attention to how you move during workouts. Are you expecting the erg, squats, push-ups, etc. to work you? Achieve your fitness goals and work it!


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