A six-pack obsession is in full swing – topping the list for many well intended yogis and fitness enthusiasts is figuring out how to tame the bulge. With a smorgasbord of “magic bullet” recipes for rock hard abs, the truth of core strength can leave one perplexed, without results, or even worse with an imbalance resulting in a global deficit that expands much greater than the core. Regardless the case, I think you should brace yourself (pun intended) for what I am about to share with you will change your outlook on your core and transform your “ab-earance”.

Since the core consists of more than just the muscles that form the “washboard abs” that are reflected in the mirror, it’s critical to acknowledge what the core unit truly is. While what you see does play a key role in our core’s strength, integrity of the core comes from optimizing global muscle activation and coordination around the entirety of the spine.

Core abdominal musculature image

Learning to engage the entirety of the tubular core is ideal for maximizing spinal stability.

Canadian personal trainer John Paul Catanzaro, BSc Kin, CSEP-CEP, quotes low back specialist and lecturer, John Casler, when he admits that “the abdominals themselves cannot push out – they can only be pushed out by the forces of intra-abdominal pressure (IAP)” – this is what creates a very strong & rigid, tubular torso. Catanzaro also notes, “It’s pretty interesting, too, that kids naturally push their tummies out when lifting an object from the ground!” If you don’t believe John; go ahead and try this for yourself, stand in front of a mirror and force all the air out of your lungs and try to push your abs out…it won’t happen without compromising IAP.

This secure “life-vest” sensation occurs due to the rise in inter-abdominal pressure during abdominal bracing, which is a very good thing for the spine. Within this perspective, the muscles of respiration, the serratus group, deep spinal muscles and the famous abdominal muscles must learn how to communicate and collectively work together without deficit in order to increase stiffness of the torso and stabilize the spine.

If just one piece of the core unit’s puzzle shows a lack of participation, abnormal patterns and pain may appear in other regions of the body. Research from the Queensland Australia group showed “that the transverse abdominus (TrA) is recruited later in Low Back Pain patients, which led to speculation that it was related to an unstable or unhealthy spine” (Basu, Arijit).

Tubular Core en-CORE-ages a muscular orchestra, rather than a solo contributor experience that when done properly can be felt internally and externally palpated. It feels as though the whole torso is securely bubble wrapped from throat to pelvic floor without strain or stress. The synergy that occurs during tubular core is the same circumstance one instinctively does when bracing for impact, when lifting heavy objects, and literally any activity that requires spinal stabilization.

Stop leaving your spine vulnerable and retire the idea of hollowing out the core! Brace yourself for my next article where I will teach you how to activate your Tubular Core and when to use it.




Enjoyed this article? Read Coregeous Moves to Erase Back Pain next.
Baylea Micheli

Baylea is a student and teacher of mindful movement. Her teaching style nurturing yet playful. Her classes are inspired by her own self inquiry and fascination with the human body and it's resilient host, the individual. Teaching as a 200-hr RYT since 2009 and becoming a Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant in 2014 has propelled her down a path of empowering individuals to restore the relationship with their bodies. With a trained eye in movement patterns and applicable therapeutic interventions, Baylea's intention is to awaken individuals to the reality of functional and sustainable movement as a foundation to overall health and well-being. It is Baylea's belief that your yoga practice, sport or fitness regimen should enhance your quality of life long after you've stepped off the mat or left the gym; therefore, setting a standard for quality movement and biomechanics is of upmost importance. Along with being a Yoga Tune Up Level 1 Practitioner, Baylea holds current certifications in Original Strength, and Clubbell Yoga by RMAX International.

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Jenn Austin

I have heard of IAP through my Forrest Yoga work. I have been curious about it as I have suffered low back pain problems for most of my life. I am looking forward to learning more about how to lessen my back pain with the hope that the more core I can develop, the less likely I will have to endure more spine surgeries. These words do a good job of simplifying the whole concept: ” the synergy that occurs during tubular core is the same circumstance one instinctively does when bracing for impact, when lifting heavy objects, and literally… Read more »

Tune Up Fitness

Thanks for circling back a second time Jenn… that’s what they’re here for!

Jenn A

Even though I am only suppose to read 3 articles today, this one made me realize I need to read at least one more tonight! Thank you for this. It’s a helpful reminder with where I am in my healing journey currently! Looking forward to learning more and adopting these new poses into my practice.

Aubrey Jackson

I love busting myths and bringing truth to our awareness. Thank you for sharing the importance of the action of bracing the abs in tubular core, which helps activate the whole abdomen and creates more of a bulge rather than a hollow belly. I’m definitely going to share this slogan, “Stop leaving your spine vulnerable and retire the idea of hollowing out the core!” with all of my yoga students.


Thank you Baylea for this short text which illustrates the protective synergy that is created by a stable spine and a fully engaged CORE from the throat to the pelvic floor without stress or tension!

Sigrún Haraldsdóttir

This is a great article explaining this very powerful tool for stabilizing the spine. This tool helps with so many postural poses and gives power to strength training. Loved the tutorial too and cant wait to share with my clients.

Jacqueline Matthews

Having just learned the term tubular core in my Yoga TuneUP class, I find it an easy way to express the concept to students. Instead of belly button to spine, it is engagement throughout out the circumference of the trunk.