Ever wonder why every trainer you've ever worked with in the gym, watched online, or seen in magazines all have great abs? Sure, they work out a lot, they eat right, and they do all the stuff they tell you to do, but there's got to be something more to their success, right? Absolutely! Want to know their secret? It's as simple as good posture!
That's right! Your mother's nagging to sit up straight and stand tall was right all along. Good posture is the foundation for everything we do from running, jumping, walking, lifting weights, and even sitting at a desk.
How does posture have that much of an impact on trainers that they seemingly always have a great six-pack? Glad you asked! First and foremost, you have to understand that good posture means proper alignment of the body. According to Kendall Wood, NASM CPT and author of Core Fitness Solution, "When your body is in alignment, everything functions at a heightened level, but when you are hunched over a desk typing every day, or if you have a job where you stand all day and inevitably do a lot of leaning, and slouching, you're not harnessing the muscles in your core."
In fact, not having perfect posture can almost ensure you won't ever have a lean middle. According to Wood, "I can always feel my abs when I'm at my desk or standing for long periods, because I have them engaged." That doesn't mean you have to constantly be flexing your core, but as Wood told us: "It's not like I'm always crunching — I'm just always aware of my posture and keeping it correct, which means those muscles are always on!"
Sounds simple, right? Wood agrees: "It's all about being mindful of your body." By standing up nice and tall, you really are strengthening your core muscles. The same effect happens when you are walking, running, or performing any other standing exercises with the correct posture. Do you think sitting at a desk means you're left out? No! If you're sitting up straight in a chair, you need to be more aware of how you are sitting. "When the body is in proper alignment, you'll notice less strain on the lower back, the spine will have less of a curve at the base, and your stomach will actually look thinner because of the shift in the pelvis," Wood said. As an added bonus, paying attention to your posture will also enhance the exercises you do and give you better results while working out because you will be using the muscle groups more efficiently.
If you really want to make sure you're keeping proper alignment and can benefit from perfect posture like your personal trainer does, this is the way to do it:
Step 1: Stand with your feet hip width apart in front of a full-length mirror and look straight ahead.
Step 2: Straighten out your neck so it looks like you're trying to make yourself as tall as you can.
Step 3: Draw in your belly and allow your torso and spine to lengthen.
Step 4: Widen your shoulders, but don't bring them forward or backward.
Step 5: Adjust your feet so that your toes are pointing straight ahead and your heels and the balls of your feet are both touching the floor evenly.
Step 6: Feel that? That's your core activating because you're in proper alignment.
Keep this practice when you're standing up and sitting down, and you're sure to see the same results as your trainer. Sure, you're still going to have to work out, but now that you've got their secret in your arsenal, you're well on your way to getting toned abs, more efficient digestion, and even the prevention of lower-back pain.