MORE CORE TRAINING!
What’s the big deal about core training?
Well, when you think about it, all of our movements either originate from your core, or move through it. Aside from having a good workout for your abdominal muscles, core training benefits your physical health in more ways than you would think. Whether you are playing sports or simply performing your daily activities, having a solid core will give you better balance and stability.
Contrary to popular belief, the core doesn’t just include the abdominal muscles. It also consists of muscles in your back, your glutes, and muscles around your hips. Core exercises train the muscles in your abdomen, lower back, and hips to work together in harmony. Keeping these muscles strong stabilizes your body, supports your spine, and enhances your overall fitness. Below are some of the main core muscles:
Rectus abdominis – These are your vertical ab muscles, otherwise known as the “six pack” muscle.
Obliques - Your internal and external oblique muscles run diagonally and help you to twist and move diagonally.
Transverse abdominis - The “TVA” is a horizontal muscle that wraps around the front and sides of your trunk and stabilizes your pelvis.
Erector spinae - The erector spinae is a back muscle that extends from the your hips to the base of your skull. It works opposite to the abs and help you to stand up straight after bending over.
Multifidus - These are the deep muscles that run on both sides of your vertebrae. They support and stabilize your spine.
This includes the Gluteus Medius, Gluteus Minimus, and Gluteus Maximus – The glute muscles give extension and external and internal rotation of the hip joint. (It’s your butt muscles BTW). When these muscles are both strong and mobile, it stabilizes the low back as well.
Hip Flexors – Most of the time these need to be stretched even more than they need strengthening due to how much we sit in a day. The deepest hip flexor in the body, the psoas muscle, is directly connected to the lumbar spine.
Hip adductors – These muscles are on the outside of the leg and glutes. They move the leg away from the body and help rotate the leg at the hip joint. The hip abductors are necessary for our stability when we walk or stand on one leg.
8 BENEFITS TO HAVING A STRONG CORE:
1. A STRONG AND STABLE LOWER BACK: Having a strong back makes you less prone to injuries and lower back pain. Low back pain is an excruciating problem that affects around 80% of North Americans at some point in their lives. Developing resilient core muscles is one of the best ways to avoid low back pain.
2. IMPROVES BALANCE AND COORDINATION: Doing core exercises stimulates the cerebellum. This is part of the brain assists in coordination, spatial awareness, and balance. Your core development stabilizes your body, allows you to move in any direction, creates balance in the body, and decreases your risk of falling.
3. MENTAL SHARPNESS: Having a stable and aligned spine enhances your overall central nervous system which allows your brain to receive your body's messages more efficiently. When you work out your core, you work out your brain!
4. ENHANCES FLEXIBILITY: When the back is strengthened and stabilized, it can help reduce stress and tension in the body. With less resistance in our muscles and tissues, we can have a greater range of motion which improves our flexibility.
5. BETTER POSTURE: Weak core muscles contribute to slouching. Do you want to know an instant trick to a slimmer appearance? Having better posture makes you look taller and thinner. Not only does good posture project more confidence, it also lessens the wear and tear on the spine and helps you to gain better benefits when you exercise.
6. BREATHE BETTER: Training the core actually improves your lung capacity. Your core muscles are connected to the diaphragm. Working out these muscle groups enhances your ability to inhale and exhale fully. In turn when you can take in more oxygen, your heart is able to pump more blood, and you have an overall improvement in your body’s performance.
7. IMPROVES ALL OTHER PHYSICAL ACTIVITIES: Not only do core exercises strengthen the abdominals and the lower back, they also make the entire body stronger. After doing several core exercise workouts, you will find that your daily living activities and sports abilities will improve. Everything we do either initiates or runs through our core. Whether you are hitting a tennis ball, mopping the floor, or bending to put your shoes on, you are using your core. Everything will improve when you strengthening it.
8. TONES YOUR ABS: Although it takes aerobic activity to burn abdominal fat, core exercises can strengthen and tone the underlying ab muscles.
You can do many core exercises without any specialized equipment. Below are listed twenty exercises for your core which lists the core muscles in each exercise. (Although there are other muscles that may be engaged in the exercises below, only the core ones are mentioned).
20 AMAZING CORE EXERCISES:
1. Planks –erector spinae; transverse abdominus; rectus abdominus; internal and external obliques; and the glutes.
2. Side Planks - transverse abdominus; internal and external obliques; glute medius; glute minimus; and hip adductors.
3. Glute Bridge - gluteus maximus, medius and minimus; erector spinae; and multifidus.
4. Crunch - rectus abdominus; internal and external obliques; and the transverse abdominus.
5. Supine Toe Tap – glutes; hip flexors; transverse abdominus; rectus abdominus; and multifidus.
6. Bird dog - erector spinae; multifidus; transverse abdominus; rectus abdominus; and the glutes.
7. Dead bugs - erector spinae; transverse abdominus; rectus abdominus; internal and external obliques; hip flexors; and the glutes.
8. Mountain climbers – glutes; abdominals; hip flexors; erector spinae; and multifidus.
9. Bicycle crunch / Cross-Crunches - internal and external obliques; rectus abdominus; and hip flexors.
10. Supermans - erector spinae; multifidus; and glutes.
11. Back extensions - erector spinae; multifidus; and glutes.
12. Deadlifts - erector spinae; multifidus; transvers abdominus; and glutes.
13. Squats – gluteus maximus; adductors; erector spinae; hip flexors; and abdominal muscles.
14. Lunges - gluteus maximus; adductors; erector spinae; hip flexors; and abdominal muscles.
15. Hay Bailors / Wood Chops - internal and external obliques; rectus abdominus; erector spinae; and multifidus.
16. Russian Twist - internal and external obliques; rectus abdominus; transverse abdominus.
17. Straight Leg Raise – hip flexors; and lower abdominals.
18. Clam Shells – glute medius; and hip abductors.
19. Swiss Ball Passes - transverse abdominus; rectus abdominus; hip flexors; glute medius; and lower abdominals.
20. TRX – ALL CORE ALL THE TIME – Pretty much any TRX exercise you do will engage multiple core muscles, and TRX provides tons of variety!