When people think of fitness, they generally focus on flexibility, endurance, or strength. So you might have someone who identifies with yoga or running or weight lifting as their primary way of staying fit.
However, while it’s convenient to classify fitness in this way, it can also be too narrow. Everyone engaged in fitness should also think of developing their core muscles.
When you join a family-friendly facility like Fitness 19, it’s easy to want to just focus on cardio, strength and free weight equipment, and while these are all excellent ways of staying in great shape, you should also consider adding some core exercises to whatever workout program you decide on.
Your core muscles are a link between your upper and lower body. While they are not showy muscles like pecs or biceps or calves, and no-one will notice whether you have a well-developed core, they make all the difference to how you do any exercise.
Whenever you move, you create a motion that ripples up and down your body. An inflexible core will make it difficult to do a good barbell curl or to run across a playing field. How well your upper or lower body exercise works depends on the strength and flexibility of your core.
When you build up your core, you can crank up the strength, power, and grace of any body movement. You increase your balance and your stability, reduce the risk of injuries, and prevent falls.
A strong and flexible core will make everything you do work much better. The core is the central link that makes all upper or lower body movements effective.
Here is a comprehensive definition of the core from breakingmuscle.com: “The “core” is a term used to describe just about everything on your body that isn’t your legs and arms.This means you can think of your glutes, hips, abdominal muscles, inner abdominal muscles, pelvic floor, and scapula as your core. Your core is where your power is generated in order to carry out any movement. While abdominal and inner abdominal muscles do play a large roll in core stability, they don’t make up the core all by themselves.”
4 Examples of Core Movements
- Everyday activities. You use your core in everyday activities when you bend down to tie your shoelaces and when you turn to look behind you.
- Work. You use your core at work when you sit at your desk and move and move back and forth in your chair as you work on your computer.
- Sports. You use your core when you are doing any kind of sport, whether it is learning the art of delivering punches and kicks with Krav Maga self-defense or doing a standing military press over your head with a barbell.
- Housework and gardening. Whether you are cleaning a window or vacuuming the carpet, you are using your core. Whether you are mowing the lawn or pulling out weeds, you are using your core. Housework and gardening require a lot of lifting, bending, and twisting.
3 Benefits of a Strong Core
Your core provides your body with three main benefits: balance, good posture, and a healthy back.
- Balance. Your core will help you move through any type of terrain or stay perfectly still. It provides all your muscles the stability they need to keep your balance. For seniors, a strong core reduces the risks associated with falling.
- Good posture. Good posture is easier when you have a strong core because you are far less likely to slouch and put pressure on your shoulders and spine. Good posture not only helps you feel more powerful in your everyday life, it also helps you exercise more effectively.
- A healthy back. Back pain is a common problem amongst most people, with almost everyone suffering from it at some point in their lives. However, by developing strong core muscles, a person is less likely to experience back pain because their muscles are all well-balanced.
How to Develop the Core
When working on developing the core, you need to find a simple routine that takes about 15 minutes. You can add this to any aerobic or strength routine you are currently doing.
There are many yoga exercises for developing the transversus abdominis, the internal and external obliques, the rectus abdominis, and the erector spinae (sacrospinalis). For instance, the plank and the side plank are highly effective.
There are also bodybuilding exercises for developing 6 pack abs ranging from tummy vacuums to variations of leg raises and sit-ups. In addition, there are many Pilate exercises to develop the core.
When developing your core, it’s important to develop both the lower back muscles and the abdomen. Unfortunately, while many people are enthusiastic about developing 6 pack abs, they tend to do so at the risk of ignoring their lower back and hip muscles.