Core work won’t remove fat from your belly. You do core work to strengthen and better stabilize the low spine and protect it from injury. But it also helps with balance, coordination and overall movement efficiency. It’s a great cool-down but can also be interspersed with cardio and strength (as we do in the club).
The principles of safe, effective execution mirror those of strength work with slow, controlled, full-range movements. You want to be careful with speed and, when lying on your back, letting your legs go too far of center away from your navel if your core strength is not exceptional. Any stress to the low back when doing core exercises means you’ve gone too long, that the variation you’ve chosen is too difficult for you or both. Core work should be balanced, working the entire 360 degree band from the base of the ribs to the base of the glutes. One additional tip – don’t work your core strenuously before doing any upper body strength work that requires significant stabilizing of the spine (like standing dumbbell shoulder presses), as that can put the low back at risk for injury.
As for flexibility, it’s all about a balanced range of motion (ROM) and elasticity in the muscle tendon chain. Establishing a balanced ROM for muscles that perform opposing tasks (like pushing muscles versus pushing muscles) is a great way to minimize your injury risk. Yoga is a great discipline for developing flexibility, but you can also do dynamic stretches and static stretches immediately after strength sets and/or at the end of your workout to optimize flexibility.
Because of the nuances of these modes, the best way to get precise direction and correction for both core and flexibility work is private training. It’s worthwhile to consider an hour devoted to the combination to ensure safe, effective training in your classes or on your own.