Do I have to Isolate my abs to strengthen them?

People always ask me the age old questions “How do I strengthen my core? Or “how do I work my abs?” Today I’m going offer an answer to those questions in a way that you probably are not familiar with, hopefully this will provide you with some relief, knowing that you’re doing something to strengthen your core muscles even when you are not aware of it.

Many people think that the only way to work a muscle is to isolate it. Well, that could not be any further from the truth. I’m not saying that isolation movements don’t work, but if you are tight on time, and want to get a full body workout in without having to do a whole bunch of extra sets on muscles such as your abs this is how you do it.

Compound movements are the way to go. A compound movement is one that involves more than one joint, and for the sake of this writing, I am going to use the deadlift as my example.

When you do a deadlift your ankles, knees and hips are involved, so it’s a
compound movement. Throughout the entire movement what you have to do to keep your body from being injured is to maintain a rock-solid core (lock your abs). If you don’t do this throughout the entire movement you’re asking for trouble, you’re asking for an injury. So, while you work your quads, glutes and hamstrings, you’re also putting some good hard work in on your core muscles (your abs) and if you did everything right… trust me you’ll feel it.

I may add extra core exercises into a program based on the clients day to day life (If they sit down a lot of core muscles are often very week), but if after some evaluation of the core muscles I believe that something such as an isolation exercise is not necessary then we will work on
compound movements without doing specific core training.

What I want you to take from this is that basically every time you do an exercise properly, your core is locked, and because of this constant occurrence I’m willing to bet you that all of this extra core work (ab exercises) that you are doing are actually not necessary.