Before building a house and deciding on the design and décor, we will first have to ensure the foundation is strong. The pillars supporting the house and the structures are key in our consideration. This is to ensure the house does not crumble.

It works the same way with our body. Before we start building our muscles and getting the look we want, we have to ensure our core is strong.

Put simply, our core comprises many different muscles that help stabilise the spine, pelvis and runs the entire length of our torso. In technical terms, our core includes the traverse abdominis (TVA), erector spinae, obliques and your lower lats.

When we stand, our core muscles help us stand upright. They control our movement and weight.

Thus, we can already see that the chief foundation of our body should thus be our core. Yet, many in the gym tend to neglect the core, choosing to focus on vanity muscles such as the triceps and biceps instead.

There are many benefits to a strong core. I’ll just list three of them.


Benefit No. 1: Strong Core Reduces Back Pain

As most of us start spending longer hours sitting in front of the laptop or playing games on our smart phones, more of us are experiencing back pain. It is something uncomfortable yet we cannot not get our work done. Thanks to our sedentary lifestyle, something has to give and very often, it’s our back.

Unbalanced core muscles are very often linked to lower back pain. And it is not something you would want to experience as it can be excruciating. Besides reducing back pain, strong core muscles help us maintain proper posture and reduces strain on the spine.

 
Benefit No. 2: Strong Core Ensures You Work Out The Correct Muscle 

We can all train to increase our strength and agility but if your core muscles are weak, you will not be able to reap the full benefits of your exercise.

When you see some people swinging their weights in the gym while standing, it’s not because their legs are weak (it could be as well). But the explanation is that the core muscles are weak. If your core muscles are weak, you will need to compensate them and that’s why you start swinging your weights. 

And now tell me, when you start swinging your weights while doing forward raises, are you working the specific muscles you intended to?

 
Benefit No. 3: Strong Core Helps Us Achieve 6 Pack Abs Faster 

Now this is something that will make everyone sit up and take notice. It’s true. Forget about relying on crunches to get their dream 6 pack abs. That, probably will never happen in your lifetime.

You have heard of this phrase before. Do not put all your eggs in one basket.

If you spread out your eggs and do different exercises that target your core, chances of you achieving 6 pack abs will be faster as well.

And your body loves variety. 

There are many core exercises you can do. But one of the easiest that I make all my clients do is the plank.

Test the strength of your core by doing my plank test! There are 4 steps in all.

1. Get into plank position
2. Prop up your toes and elbows
3. Ensure your body is in a straight line and parallel to the floor (or mat) from neck to ankle
4. Hold the position, without wobbling or sagging. 
 
Lionel's Legend For Your Plank Score 

1 minute = Excellent
40 seconds = Good
20 seconds = Fair
10 seconds = Poor

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And by the way, all my clients can stay in plank position for at least 1 minute. Enough said, it’s time for everyone to get down to core business!

If you would like to find out more about training your core muscles, 
click here.
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If you love sushi, chances are you would have heard of Sakae Sushi, a restaurant chain based in Singapore serving Japanese cuisine throughout the region and in the United States. The pioneer who revolutionalised the sushi industry by introducing sushi on conveyer belts, it was my pleasure today to be able to share with the Sakae Sushi staff on how to reduce stress.
 
It seems like you hear it all the time from nearly every one you know – “I’m SO stressed out!”  Pressures abound in this world today.  Those pressures cause stress and anxiety, and often we are ill-equipped to deal with those stressors that trigger anxiety and other feelings that can make us sick.  Literally, sick.  

Like it or not, unfortunately, stress and anxiety go hand in hand.  In fact, one of the major symptoms of stress is anxiety.  And stress accounts for 80 percent of all illnesses either directly or indirectly.

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When the staff from Sakae Sushi did the stress check questionnaire I specially prepared for them, many were seen comparing scores with their colleagues. This was a promising sign as it showed the stress level was well under control. Imagine if you had a super high stress score, you would have kept it under wraps, right?

And we were all in for a very pleasant surprise when two hands went up when it came to the battle of the lowest stress score. While one hand belonged to a newbie employee who just joined the company, the other hand belonged to a lady veteran. It demonstrated that she made stress work to her advantage and in the process of doing so, capitalised on the benefits of eustress to propel herself positively forward in her work, family and life in general. She was indeed a shining example for all of us to emulate.
 
I don’t mean to scare you, my dear readers. But it’s been proven many times over that stress is more dangerous than we thought, unless it is managed well.

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For one, you've probably heard that it can raise your blood pressure, increasing the likelihood of a stroke in the distant future. 

And when you are stressed, it shows up in your body. I shared with the participants that one of the most obvious signs was a shutting down of the digestive and immune systems. There were also many occurrences of psychosomatic illness, an illness with an emotional or psychological side to it.

To make matters worse, stress often prompts people to respond in unhealthy ways such as smoking, drinking alcohol, eating poorly, or becoming physically inactive. This damages the body in addition to the wear and tear of the stress itself.

If you ask me, stress is inevitable. Just like the lady veteran who had a relatively low stress count, we too can achieve a similar lifestyle like hers.
 
It all boils down to realizing that we will never completely get rid of stress in our lives. Instead, we can learn coping techniques to turn that stress into a healthier situation. By the end of the stress management talk, all the participants were in a significantly happier mood. And by the way, if you are keen to find out how, talk to me...I’ll be happy to show you. 
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