It’s what’s on the inside that counts. I’ve heard that saying so many times before, but now I think about it through a different lens. As summer approaches and magazines, TV, and social media sites are littered with half naked men and women displaying their 6 pack abs and promising consumers that they too can look that good, I chuckle and think to myself, if they only knew….It’s what’s on the inside that counts. It’s about getting down to the core. A strong, stabilizing core.

The core. People in the fitness industry throw that term around loosely. What does it really mean? The core is the entire region from your hips up to your diaphragm and includes your low back and obliques. Your core plays a critical role in the body of stabilizing the spine and aiding in good posture. It is also considered the power center of the body. When you perform movements that involve twisting, throwing and/or changes in direction (think tennis, golf, baseball, basketball or everyday tasks such as putting a child in a car seat or loading laundry into a frontloading washing machine), your core is what transfers strength and power from the lower body to the upper body.

Recently, I was fortunate enough to spend 48 hours among the top leaders in TRX training, and I would argue, in the industry as a whole. We started the weekend off with an intense hour long workout. There were nearly 300 fitness professionals packed into a large hotel ballroom pushing themselves, sweating and breathing heavily. The pictures on those magazine covers popped into my head. Here we go…another tough sock it to ‘em workout and a laundry list of exercises to take home and throw at our clients with the promise of that 6 pack. It wasn’t what I had come there for. Fortunately, after a short break, we came back together and then it really began. In a very short time, the focus shifted and I knew this conference was going to be different. We got invited to go inside of what TRX leaders call “The Kitchen.” I like to think of The Kitchen as where all the “what’s,” the “how’s” and my favorite, “the WHY’S”, get carefully measured, mixed and baked to perfection. You see the kitchen is where you see the Core. It’s what’s on the inside that counts.

TRX TrainingOne of the favorite tag lines of TRX is “All core all the time.” What did that mean exactly? Chris Frankel, one of the great minds in the TRX kitchen, explained to us how suspension and RIP training engage the core with every movement. We listened to the science, reviewed the research, and went through the movements in our own bodies. You can’t argue with science. TRX creates more efficient and effective workouts than traditional seated strength training. In addition to building stabilization for the spine TRX, by design, requires more core activation with every motion. The more muscles we “turn on” the more calories we burn. I’d say that is a win win situation. Remember, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

Another concept that continued to surface throughout the weekend was the idea of training in 3D. There is benefits that TRX provides by allowing us to stand up to train or better stated, train how we live. Much of traditional strength training in the gym limits the planes of motion possible in any given exercise. For example, performing sit ups or push-ups on the floor, or doing a chest press or skull crushers lying down on a stable bench surface. We may not always think about it this way, but the function of the core is to “use the forces created by gravity and ground reaction to create forward motion while walking” –McCall. That’s right-the actual purpose of our core muscles is to work while the body is standing upright in a vertical position. With that understanding, does lying on the ground doing an abdominal crunch or sit-up in a single plane of motion seem like the most effective way to gain core strength? Probably not. You can do lots of crunches and sit-ups and still have a weak core. Effective training for the core requires exercises that also integrate the hips, back, and shoulders to distribute the forces of gravity and produce efficient movements for everyday living. Performing these types of exercises will lead to increased core strength and endurance, improved posture, reduction in low-back pain and enhanced sport performance. Those all sound good to me…

Now Back to those 6 pack abs….

TRX Suspension Training for a six pack abdomenSo after 48 hours immersed in TRX knowledge and know how, one of the many things I came away with is this… It’s not really about how you look on the outside, although a little vanity is just fine if it helps keep you motivated to get your workout in. If you are truly looking to get fitter, faster, stronger, and better, you can’t judge a book (or in this case a magazine) by its cover. Creating a strong functional core with suspension training will get you the results you are seeking. It’s what’s on the inside that counts! Those 6 packs abs will just be the icing on the cake.

A special thanks to Frasier Quelch, Dan McDonogh, Pete Holman, Chris Fankel and of course, Founder Randy Hetrick for sharing your knowledge and passion with us all. Get out there and Make Your Body Your Machine.

For more information visit and search the TRX directory for Mindy Pedersen or email