Fitter Core- Fitter You

“Working your Core” is not just a trendy phrase from the latest Pilates or Tai Chi class.  Core stability (or core strengthening) is now a well-known fitness trend that has started to transcend into the sports medicine world.  It makes no difference whether you prefer yoga or weight lifting — a strong core is the foundation of a healthy exercise program.

The body’s core muscles impact all movement and link the upper and lower parts of the body. They include abdominal muscles: the internal and external obliques, the rectus abdominus and the transverse abdominus. The muscles in the hip included in the core consist of the abductors and flexors in the pelvic area and upper thigh. The major back muscles in the core include lower back muscles as well as the gluteus maximus.

Strengthen you core and you’ll discover many benefits, including increased strength and stamina in the gym.  A strong and stable core gives additional power to all other muscles, particularly for powerful contractions such as rapid muscle movements. The more stable the core, the more energy transferred to the muscles leading to quicker repetitions and more effective training.

A strong core improves your posture, which gives you better form for weight lifting and other exercises.  It also reduces injury and improves your balance.  Weak core muscles can put undue pressure and pain on the lower back during simple physical tasks like walking.  When you exercise with weak core muscles, the pressure grows exponentially leading to painful back injuries.  Strengthening the abdominal muscles allows upper body weight to be evenly distributed on your body and your balance improves.

The main concepts of core strengthening programs involve using many muscles in a coordinated movement and focus on working the deep muscles of the entire torso at once. Here are some training moves that target your core.

  • Abdominal Bracing – This is the primary technique used during core exercise training. Pull the belly button in toward the spine and hold. Continue breathing while bracing.

  • Plank – Start in a push-up position with the elbows and forearms on the floor. Hold the back straight and lift one leg. Lower the leg and repeat with the opposite leg.

  • V-Sits – Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of the body. Lift the legs to a 45 degree angle. At the same time, reach the arms toward the feet.

Other core-centered exercises are push-ups, lunges and back extensions. If you engage in these movements frequently, you’ll soon reap the benefits of having a strong core.