What It Really Means To ‘Zip Up Your Abs’ During Core Work


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By Marissa Gainsburg; Photograph by

Seriously, what’s that supposed to feel like?

Engaging your core is a must during any activity, but it may be hard to understand how to do it from certain instructions.

To get the lowdown on what common core instructions actually mean, we chatted with Socanomics founder and former US Women’s Health Next Fitness Star Selena Watkins.

Watch: 5 Breathing Drills That Work Your Core Muscles — No Crunches Required

If “Pull your belly button toward your spine” causes you to suck in, or “Brace your stomach like someone is going to punch you” leads you to hold your breath, Watkins advises trying this one instead: “Think of your core as a suit of armor, and imagine pulling a zipper straight up the middle, like you’re knitting yourself up from your lower abs to the top of your rib cage.”

Now try this core-busting workout:

When you activate your core without sacrificing form or breathing, you can perform any activity—lifting, running, dancing—with more power.

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