Cut Seven is a total body program—NOT a total body workout. Over the past four weeks, we tried giving you a little insight as to why we break up the schedule the way we do, and why you can’t strengthen certain muscle groups while ignoring others.
You learned that you have to strengthen your back to get a strong core, and you will never get a strong, lifted ass without strong hamstrings. To round-out our four part series, we’re ending with the muscle group athletes seem to want—yet completely misunderstand—the most.
If you want to have a strong anything, improving your athletic performance, muscle endurance, or posture, you have to have a strong core.
—And for those who skipped Abs on Tuesday because it’s not as exhausting as Heart Day, you completely overlooked the fact that these workouts have two very different objectives.
Why You Have to Have a Strong Core: Balance, Function, and Aesthetics
Balance: Your Core Supports Every Other Muscle In Your Body
Abs Day supports every other workout on the schedule, hence why we have a dedicated day to it. But as you’ve heard Chris and Katie say on repeat, every day is Abs day. You have to learn to recruit your core for every move you do, no matter what “Day” it is on the schedule.
“You cannot afford to not engage your abs—no matter the workout,” explains Chris, “Otherwise it into turns into Back/Hip Flexor Day.” That’s why you’ll see coaches call out a hollow body hold before we even break into stations on Abs Day. Just like doing glute activation on Ass Day, you need to engage your core before you start the workout, reminding those muscles it’s time to do work.
Your abs have to fire to keep your spine in alignment, otherwise your low-back and hip flexors will take the brunt of stabilization. This is critical for every human body, from the most savage athlete to an elderly person simply looking to get through the day without pain. A strong core will keep your back in position as you frog run down the turf on Saturday, and it will allow you to get up and out of a chair forty years from now.
Speaking of chairs—most of us sit all day in them, when we work, eat, and watch tv. This puts undue stress on your hip flexors, which is why so many of you feel your hips during core exercises. Having a strong abs will reduce the pressure a sedentary lifestyle places on your hips.
Function: Your Core Allows You to Move Across Every Plane and Braces You for Impact
The goal of having a strong core isn’t so you can hold a plank for two minutes. The goal of having a strong core is so you can brace it through every exercise and everyday life—not just isometric (stationary) holds.
Squeezing your core allows you to move across every plane—laterally in skater jumps, rotationally in a walking lunge and twist, and forward-and-backward when running sprints. For those of you who just started marathon training, think about this as you do your long runs: You have four different limbs, and each limb is pulling you in a different direction. Squeezing your core is what propels you to run forward. Otherwise, your arms will take over and pull you from side to side, negatively impacting your running gait and making you work harder each mile.
And for those of you who have zero desire to ever run a race, remember this: Your core is what braces your body for impact. If you do Heart Day you have to recruit your core, or you will feel every frog run, tuck jump, or box jump in all the wrong places.
Aesthetics: You Won’t Get them From *Just Doing Crunches
We’re not going to waste our word count convincing you of the aesthetic benefits of a strong core. Instead, we’re going to address the skewed perception in how you get there.
Your core is an endurance muscle, meant to last through every workout and as you go about your day. You should feel your abs fire as you lower and raise in a squat, sit at your computer, walk down the street, or walk up the metro steps. Those who use their core throughout every workout and everyday movements train their abs more than you ever could from doing 200 reps of crunches.
If you want a stronger core, try to become more aware of all the times you could and should be engaging it (both within the studio and outside it). Every athlete—Cut Seven aside—uses their core. A quarterback throwing a football, a center fielder twisting to catch a fly ball, or a sprinter running perfectly upright all start those movements by firing their abs.
If You Want to Train More Efficiently, Focusing on One Muscle Group Will Not Get You There
As the last post within our four-part series, we’ll leave you with this:
So many of us get caught up with very specific goals—particularly aesthetic goals—we forget a very obvious fact about training: Your body acts as one, complete system. And targeting certain areas while ignoring others will cause that system to eventually break down.
There are ways seemingly unrelated muscle groups support the muscles you so desperately want to strengthen, and you are hindering your progress by overlooking them. And you know what? It’s not your job to know every last scientific reason that sentence holds true—that’s what the schedule is for.
The schedule is, to the very best of combined knowledge between owners and coaches, the most efficient way to train. This gym was never built to give you isolated workouts to pick and choose from—it was designed as a complete program with the shortest distance to visible results. Hopefully this four-part series gave you a little insight into how it does just that.