Ab Muscles | What is happening to our core muscles when we work out

Ab Muscles | What is happening to our core muscles when we work out

We put so much focus on toning, building muscles, especially those core/abdomen muscles, aka abs, we are always after (PS nothing wrong with that, it’s actually a great thing!), but do we know what we are doing to them, why we want them, apart from a ‘healthy and toned body’ Why is it healthy? What is happening to them when we work out?

Well, if you didn’t, now you can know about it anyways, or if you did, then we finally have simple but informative insight for you from Sarah Grooms, a Radio City Rockette and Certified Personal Trainer, and co-founder of City Fit Life, a community for women interested in fitness.

Purpose and function of your muscles

You have three types of muscles in your body that, at the end of the day, help your body to move and function properly. These muscles are the skeletal, smooth, and cardiac muscles.

Skeletal muscles are the muscles you work when you’re lifting weights. They are muscles that can increase in mass and size.

Smooth muscles are controlled by your nervous system and work without you having to voluntarily do anything. Think of this system as a network inside your body that works without you telling it to.

Your cardiac muscle is your heart, which also works without you telling it to do so voluntarily. 

What happens to your muscles when you lift weights

The skeletal, smooth, and cardiac muscles all have different functions in your body when working out but similarly are all needed to do so effectively. All three are also needed to go about daily activity.

When lifting weights, your muscles are contracting, and you’re creating mini tears in the muscle tissue that heal with proper recovery time. Properly training and recovering can allow for muscle growth, but overtraining can also result in injury


Purpose of a workout

I believe a workout sets a person up for everyday life. What you do in a training session can apply to life outside of the gym or wherever it is that you work out. When you build a proper foundation that starts with stability, builds strength, and works up to power, the sky is the limit as to what the body can achieve, assuming there are no prior injuries or limitations.

How to work out your abs / core muscles

I believe your core is one of the hardest muscles to work correctly, and your core has to be engaged properly before lifting any weight at all, or severe injury can occur. Having a neutral spine where your bellybutton is reaching for your spine is a great place to start finding the proper form when working your abdomen. Also, make sure you’re not holding your breath.

When working your core, I would say to start with your own body weight and not add any extra weight until you feel confident that the exercise is working the targeted area. Body weight exercises, like a static plank hold, can be a great way to build a solid foundation and focus on your core.

Seeking CPT, or a certified professional trainer, is a great way to work with someone on completing fitness goals when you’re not sure where or how to start. A trainer can help create a specific plan for a client to reach goals that have been set when it comes to building and maintaining a certain physique.

How does muscle building affect you as a dancer and marathoner?

As a dancer, I’ve always been told not to run because it will make me bulky, and I’ve found that to be a major myth!

However, depending on the type of dancing I’m doing, I realize that the major muscle groups used in dance can often be different than running. When I began my running journey, I quickly learned that I wasn’t always properly firing my glute (butt) muscles, which presented a major problem when it came to running. This highly affected me in marathon training. Performing in a 90-minute show allowed me to build endurance, which is absolutely needed in distance running, but I was being sidelined during longer distances because not all of my muscles were properly functioning. Once I started learning how to correctly train and fire my posterior chain, or the back side of my body, I was able to take on the longer distances more easily.”

Strength training allowed me to take on distance running and increase my speed in a safe way!
— Sarah Grooms, Dancer and CPT
Sarah Grooms, Radio City Rockette, Marathoner, Certified Personal Trainer, Co-founder of City Fit Life

Sarah Grooms, Radio City Rockette, Marathoner, Certified Personal Trainer, Co-founder of City Fit Life

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