This is an excerpt from Functional Core for Women by Kia Williams.
You have likely heard or read all kinds of advice about how to train your core. Some of that advice may be good; some is not so good. Let’s separate myths from facts regarding some of the things people say on this topic.
Myth 1: The Core Is the Same as the Abs
Fact: The abs are just one piece of the pie (or core). The core is made up of multiple muscle groups (e.g., the diaphragm, transverse abdominis, erector spinae, and multifidus) that work together to support and protect the pelvis, hips, and spine. Abs do not work alone in core function; back and glute muscles are involved in core work as well. (Glutes are discussed in more detail in the next section.)
Myth 2: A Chiseled Six-Pack Equates to a Strong Core
Fact: While a six-pack may be considered attractive by some standards, it does not mean that someone with a visible six-pack can out-plank someone whose six-pack isn’t as pronounced. Every person has six-pack abs as part of their anatomy (the rectus abdominis), but true core strength involves more muscular engagement, not just the rectus abdominis.
Myth 3: Doing More Crunches Will Build Abs
Fact: Your abdominal muscles already exist, so you don’t have much building to do; when training the abs, you are not erecting a building from the ground up. Also, all muscles of the body need recovery time after targeting exercise work. During the recovery phase of exercise, muscles get stronger and more developed. Depriving the muscles of this recovery time leads to overtraining, which results in weakened muscles, injury, and loss of stability—everything you don’t want. The abs are active during most of your functional, daily movement patterns, so they work without you even thinking about it. In addition, crunches are not the only way to chisel your abs. Some fitness professionals argue that crunches are not the most beneficial way to build your abs because they are not functional movements, and the repetitive forward flexion of the spine could cause unnecessary compression on spinal discs.