Celebrity Fitness: The most effective ab exercises to build a strong core from top to bottom, according to a celebrity fitness trainer

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Celebrity Fitness: The most effective ab exercises to build a strong core from top to bottom, according to a celebrity fitness trainer

Celebrity Fitness:

Celebrity Fitness: Dogpound Gym 46


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  • Your core is in charge of keeping you from falling over.
  • Trainer Christian Castano, general manager at New York’s elite Dogpound Gym, recently shared 5 of his favorite and most effective core exercises with Insider.
  • Castano says when it comes to developing a strong core, it’s all about increasing “time under tension,” that is, how long your abs are working to stabilize your body without rest.
  • You also need to perform several different kinds of exercises to target different muscle groups.
  • “It comes down to slow, steady, and controlled,” Castano said.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Trainer Christian Castano says most people are working their abs the wrong way.

“A lot of people tend to just try to rush through their ab workouts, and do them as fast as possible for as many reps as possible,” Castano told Insider during a recent visit to the star-studded Dogpound Gym, where he’s general manager. “That actually ends up being counter-productive.”

Castano said what people often don’t realize is that when they speed up a core workout, they end up diverting ab exercise and tension to other parts of their body that they don’t intend to work out, like the lower back, legs, or neck.

“When it comes to abs, they’re stabilizer muscles,” he said, “It comes down to slow, steady, and controlled.”

His advice fits squarely with what other trainers and exercise physiologists recommend. Take a look at the 5 moves he offered up for a steely core that’ll keep you standing strong all day long.

Celebrity Fitness: We started things off with a basic leg raise. I laid down, kept my hands under my butt, and put my feet straight up into the air.


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Leg raises help work the rectus abdominis (our “six pack” muscles), and especially hit the lower abs and hip flexors.

Celebrity Fitness: Castano challenged me to move slowly and with control as I lowered my legs straight down towards the floor. “Slow and controlled wins the race,” he said.


Hollis Johnson/Insider

“What I’m trying to work here is more of a slow-twitch muscle fiber,” Castano said, as he encouraged me to take it slow. “They make your body tighter, and they train your body to be able to sustain a contraction for a prolonged period of time.”

Moving slow and with control not only helps firm up your core. If you’re also using that extra time to make sure your core is engaged while you lift and lower your legs, it helps ensure the hip flexors and low back aren’t getting the bulk of this workout.

Celebrity Fitness: Next, we moved in to some sit-ups. Castano said one key to nailing proper sit-up form is to keep your shoulders off the floor the entire time. Once again, “it’s all about keeping your muscle under tension for a prolonged period of time,” he said.


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I was surprised that we were attempting sit ups during our core routine.

Trainers consistently tell me this is the one core move people always mess up. But Castano said that sit-ups can be part of a complete core routine if they’re done correctly.

I kept my feet on the floor, and my knees bent, to help protect my lower back.