I will never forgot several years ago I had to go to physical therapy for an injury. During the physical therapist’s initial assessment, he did several maneuvers to asses my core strength. Here I was, a fitness junkie and my core was incredibly weak. I was not only embarrassed, but alarmed! I thought I was fit, but if my core wasn’t passing the test, I knew I needed to reevaluate how I was training my body.
I firmly believe that having core strength transcends into having total body fitness. I not only changed the way I work out, but I changed the way I encourage my clients and fitness class attendees to work out. In most of my strength training, I attempt to execute total body exercises that originate from the core. After this change, and as time went on, I have noticed a great improvement in my exercise form, strength, balance, and endurance. My back aches less, and I can get up from the floor without using my hands. (Think that’s easy? Give it a try!)
The Muscles That Make Up The Core (We aren’t just talking crunches here!)
The core muscles start at the top of the abdominal trunk and run down to the lower torso, and they can be broken down into four muscle groups:
The gluteus muscle group includes the muscles of the middle hip and buttocks, and the hamstrings as well.
The hip muscle group includes the muscles of the upper hip and pelvis.
The abdominal muscle group contains the internal and external obliques, and the traverse and rectus abdominus.
The spinae muscle group contains the muscles that support the spine, such as the multifidus.
So, how do we incorporate core training into our everyday life and fitness routines? One change that I have made over the years was to correct my posture. Hunched over shoulders and poor sitting while driving were not helping my cause. I began to create an awareness about how I was sitting in many of my day-to-day positions. I often wore my hair up and noticed that while driving if my pony tail rubbed the head rest this would unknowingly create a forward head posture in me. Not only was I forward, but I drove all slouched over. I am always working on correcting this technique, but my driving posture had indeed improved by taking my hair down, and sitting up tall! Another way I have improved my posture and thus my core strength is by sitting on a stability ball while I am at the desk. Here I am easily reminded to engage the core (front and back), as I sit up tall! If you are looking for more ways to work on your posture, please check out my post: Standing Tall
The number one exercise that will rock your core strength to the next level is planking. Even with my beginner clients I try to focus on getting them strong in this move. Many people cannot hold a plank position for more than a few seconds without sacrificing their form. That is ok. As time goes on you will notice improvements. I love building exercises off of the basic plank. Again, I believe this is where total body fitness really gets ramped up.
If you are looking to decrease back pain, look slimmer, improve your golf swing, and experience ease while sitting, standing, or getting up off of the floor; working your core is the key! Stay away from six-pack abdominal moves that may cause spinal problems, and think total body training. Combine core strength with clean eating and you are bound to see those abs sooner or later!
Check out below a quick tutorial on how to do the plank move correctly!
Stay tuned for more fitness moves originating from the plank position and working the core!