What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “core training”?
Maybe you think of crunches or sit ups. Maybe you envision someone with a six pack.
Chances are, you’re thinking of your abdominal muscles.
The truth is that core strength is about so much more than having a toned tummy.
Core strength improves your posture and balance, reduces the risk of injury, and makes even the smallest movements more efficient.
That’s because your core consists of more than abdominals.
Your core is a complex set of muscles that also includes your back extensor muscles, your diaphragm, and your pelvic floor.
The extensor muscles are attached to the back of the spine and enable standing and lifting. They include the lower back muscles, known as the erector spinae, and the gluteal muscles.
The diaphragm rests just above the abdominals. It’s responsible for breathing. Think of it as the muscle group that expands outward when you breathe with your belly.
The pelvic floor connects the pubic bone to the sacrum. The pelvic floor supports the bladder, intestines, and uterus. It aids with continence and facilitates birth.
Together these four muscle groups form a structure that simultaneously holds your organs in place and stabilizes your spinal column.
So what does core training look involve?
While we often think of core training as abdominal exercises, most of what you do in the gym is going to reinforce your core strength.
In fact, planks, goblet squats, and kettle bell swings all activate your core muscles.
Planks in particular are great for building core strength, especially if you just started working out. Try holding the pose for 30 seconds and then add time as you become stronger.
Core training can be a challenge if you have injuries or post-partum issues, but a skilled personal trainer can almost always find way to around them.
As with planks, the trick is often to start small and build strength slowly over time.
So what are you waiting for? Get down and do some planks!
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