Core strength is one of the most important parts of any sport or workout program, as well as for overall health in general. It affects all of our movements and can play a big role in how well we perform and avoid injury.
So, what is the core?
The core is the stabilizer and the balancing point of the body. Your core basically refers to all of the muscles, joints and bones found between the rib cage and the hips, including deep muscles that are not always worked on in regular strength training. In fact, basically everything except your arms and legs are contained in the core. Standing, bending over, even sitting quietly all use muscles found in the core; in fact, every action, no matter how small, moves through the core. A resilient core affects strength, endurance, flexibility, function and motor control, and it helps to keep your body properly aligned. A weak core can cause problems such as muscle pain, poor balance, inflexibility, bad posture, or injury, and these are just a few of the possible difficulties that ignoring your core can trigger.
Building a strong core
Building a strong core will benefit you no matter what fitness level you are at. Core strength is crucial to avoiding injury, but it also helps the body gain strength and makes your movements more efficient, and impacts general health. You will find as you strengthen your core that movement and activity will become easier, and your body will feel more capable. There are lots of different core strengthening exercises you can do, whether you do a complete workout or just choose specific muscles to work on.
If you are new to core exercises, start with some of the easier workouts available and work your way up to the more advanced exercises. Either way, make sure that you include core-specific workouts in your regular schedule. Remember to drink plenty of water and take appropriate periods of rest. It’s also important to remember to continue strengthening your core even while you are engaging in sports or training for other activities. Research has shown over and over that the greater your core stability, the lower your risk of injury is.
Isn’t core training just training abs??
No, not at all. Your core isn’t just your abdominal area. Your core encompasses your upper gluteus and erector spinae. So doing crunches won’t cut it. You need to make sure you are working your entire core for optimal core strength. Exercises like planks, supermans, crossovers and toe touches are all great exercises for hitting all muscles in the core at the same time. Also, working in an unstable environment when you do other exercises will enhance your core strength. Examples of this could be squatting on a BOSU ball or doing dumbbell training while sitting on a stability ball – both require you to engage your core on a more intense level. Doing exercise programs like yoga or Pilates are also great options for strengthening and tightening up that core.
(For my own 4-week core builder program, go to YouTube and subscribe to nickolsenpt.)