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abs and core

The abs and core are a popular focus of workouts, as people strive for a slim waist to define their physique. Many people don’t think of the elliptical for ab and core workouts, but with the proper elliptical workouts you can strengthen your core.

Toned abs not only can boost appearance, but also play an important part in stabilizing the core. The abs and core are the center of the body and consists of the following muscle groups:

  1. Rectus abdominus – top layer (the washboard or 6-pack) that performs spinal flexion (bending)
  2. Internal and external obliques – located on the sides of the waist like sets of pockets, these two muscle groups laterally flex (bend) and rotate the spine
  3. Transverse abdominus — the deep horizontal band of muscle that functions like a girdle and helps stabilize the back and pelvis
  4. Erector spinae – group of vertical muscles in the back that perform spinal extension and stabilizes the spine

A strong abs and core center is important in virtually all movements, contributes to good posture and helps reduce the risk of debilitating back pain.

Contrary to old-school practices, the best way to work your core is NOT to perform multiple sit-ups daily. To really target the abs and core, you must do several different types of exercises, including:

  • Cardio: Consistent cardiovascular exercise expends calories by burning body fat. Body fat lies on top of muscle, so if you want washboard abs, you must lose fat first. Wear a heart rate monitor and stay in your target zone, and incorporate intervals to boost results.
  • Strength training: While strength training alone isn’t a big calorie burner, it strengthens the muscles, which boosts metabolism. A higher metabolism means more calories expended – which can be drawn from your belly fat. Focus on the major muscle groups several times weekly for best results.
  • Core exercises: Follow a routine of core exercises, which includes moves like planks, crunches and twists. Pilates and yoga are great ways to work the core as well. Check with a trainer or online to create a variety of your own core workouts, and change the exercises periodically to stimulate more progress.

Elliptical Workouts for Abs and Core

Elliptical trainers are popular ways to exercise because they are low-impact, total-body and easy to use. Although they don’t target the core specifically, there are ways that you can work your entire body and engage your abs on the elliptical. But you need to be aware of your core throughout your workout. Try these suggestions:

  • Watch your posture: Stand up straight throughout your session and don’t slouch or lean on the machine.
  • Navel to spine: Pull your belly button in during the entire workout – do not hold your breath but draw your belly inward like you’re bracing to take a gut punch
  • Periodically let go of the handlebars: Only do this if you can safely balance, of course, but making yourself to stabilize without the external support of the machine works the core.
  • Vary workouts: Don’t just do the same Manual program all the time. Try some of the machine’s preprogrammed routines – like interval training and interactive heart rate sessions – which challenge your body differently and force you to adjust.
  • Try Workout Boosters: Octane Fitness ellipticals have unique Workout Boosters, like X-Mode, which incorporate one-minute intervals of various moves, like lean back, squat, go in reverse and more. These short blasts can keep your core firing.
  • Take on CROSS CiRCUIT: Another exclusive feature of Octane ellipticals, CROSS CiRCUIT integrates short intervals of strength training exercises with cardio periods on the machine. This is an effective way to target your core with specific exercises that you choose – and benefit from efficient cardio and strength training at the same time!