Ashley Graham Has A Foolproof Way To Tell If You’re Engaging Your Core Correctly

A quick scroll through the Insta feed will tell you three things about Ashley Graham: the girl is unapologetic herself (remember that time she ate fried chicken in a bikini?!), a weapon in the gym (dem booty gains tho) and a huge advocate for embracing the ‘Ugly Butt’ (a workout cue that helps her nail perfect form at all times.)

“When Ashley did a plank, it was apparent to me that she’s never really been taught how to truly engage her core, despite the fact she’s been working out for a really long time,” Ashley’s trainer Kira Stokes who coined the term, told Shape of their first-ever sweat session together. The tip-off? She kept sticking her booty out, meaning there was no abdominal activation whatsoever.

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Had an absolute blast leading a workout for the Ashley X Olly event last week. SWIPE for some inspiring words from @ashleygraham and Stoked moments powered by @ollynutrition – those energy gummies are magic✨💥 (I’m a big fan of all Olly products). Thanks to everyone who came out GET STOKED💪🏼PLEASE READ⬇️ ⭐️We all know showing up for a new workout experience can be both exciting and intimidating. Remembering that you are showing up for YOU, to do what’s right for YOUR body can help ensure your experience is a fabulous one. Your workout, your body, your time. A few things I like to remind myself and both new and experienced #stokedathletes : 🔹Have no shame in your modification game – respect the process of getting stronger. Regressions (and progressions for that matter) are there to help you navigate your way through your personal fitness journey, safely and effectively 🔹perform “self-awareness scans” as I like to call them. Mind/muscle connection is key during workouts. Take the time to set your position, know the correct form and understand what muscles you need to engage to move properly (set-up, form, action). Take this connection a step further and every so often do I deeper check-in to reassess how your body is feeling and responding to the workout. This can help you to adjust form, the weights your using, speed at which you’re moving etc so your workout is the most effective 🔹 smile through and do you – let your spirit shine. You’re doing amazing things for your body and mind by challenging it with a workout, that’s something to celebrate! #ollysponsored #happyinsideout

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Had an absolute blast leading a workout for the Ashley X Olly event last week. SWIPE for some inspiring words from @ashleygraham and Stoked moments powered by @ollynutrition – those energy gummies are magic✨💥 (I’m a big fan of all Olly products). Thanks to everyone who came out GET STOKED💪🏼PLEASE READ⬇️ ⭐️We all know showing up for a new workout experience can be both exciting and intimidating. Remembering that you are showing up for YOU, to do what’s right for YOUR body can help ensure your experience is a fabulous one. Your workout, your body, your time. A few things I like to remind myself and both new and experienced #stokedathletes : 🔹Have no shame in your modification game – respect the process of getting stronger. Regressions (and progressions for that matter) are there to help you navigate your way through your personal fitness journey, safely and effectively 🔹perform “self-awareness scans” as I like to call them. Mind/muscle connection is key during workouts. Take the time to set your position, know the correct form and understand what muscles you need to engage to move properly (set-up, form, action). Take this connection a step further and every so often do I deeper check-in to reassess how your body is feeling and responding to the workout. This can help you to adjust form, the weights your using, speed at which you’re moving etc so your workout is the most effective 🔹 smile through and do you – let your spirit shine. You’re doing amazing things for your body and mind by challenging it with a workout, that’s something to celebrate! #ollysponsored #happyinsideout

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“If you ask someone who is used to modelling for eight hours a day to tuck and draw your butt in they’re like, ‘Huh? In every picture I’m supposed to stick it out, and now I’m supposed to do the opposite?’ But by allowing your pelvis to anteriorly tilt (booty pop position) instead of tucking your pelvis (‘Ugly Butt’ position), you’re setting yourself up to have real pain in the future,” Stokes explained.

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A post shared by A S H L E Y G R A H A M (@ashleygraham) on


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In fact, the first time she got Ash to tuck her pelvis under and squeeze her cheeks simultaneously (which btw, is key), she looked at her in disbelief and was like, “Oh my god! I think for the first time I felt my core.”

But hold up, why is core activation so important again?!

“It’s the powerhouse of your body,” Stokes explains. “All movement – safe movement – stems from your core.” NB: the term ‘core’ doesn’t just refer to abs. (“Your core muscles are everything from the glutes (butt), to the insertion of your lat muscles, to the front and back body. Essentially it’s everything except your head and limbs.”) And don’t stress if you’re not a huge fan of planks (same), there are heaps of alternate exercises out there that will work your core just as well.


“Bridging, bird dog crunches, endurance glute work where you’re on all fours and pulsing, are all great for core work,” Stokes adds. Just don’t forget to activate the good ole ‘Ugly Butt.’

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