It’s hard to overstate the importance of a strong core. It keeps you upright while reading this article and helps you power through tough, explosive workouts. The body’s core supports and enables nearly every move you make. I have become more aware of my core since retiring from competing and not just focusing on aesthetics, but more channeling my inner athlete again and maintaining a functional body. The foundation of movement and physical fitness is posture! Having great posture is mainly dependent on your body being able to maintain a strong midsection.
Many people think “core” is synonymous with “abs.” While abdominals do make up a major part of your midsection, the core includes much more than just a superficial part of the tummy. Some fitness experts define the area as your trunk, front, and back, from your pelvis to the bottom of your sternum. Other experts include your neck down to your upper thighs.
Wherever you draw the line, the muscles of the core act as mobilizers — enabling rotation, flexion, lateral flexion, and extension of the trunk — and as stabilizers, preventing us from collapsing or tipping over when faced with a load.
To effectively strengthen these muscles, your workouts should incorporate a variety of functional movements.
Build a Strong Core:
Work toward balance. Your core muscles work together to perform most movements and to stabilize your spine and pelvis. For strength training purposes though, it can help to group your core muscles into three sections: the front, back, and sides of your trunk. Make sure to include exercises that target each of these areas.
Mix things up. In real life, the demands placed on the core are constantly changing so your body needs to be adaptable. Your workouts can include a few go-to exercises, but you should also periodically refresh your routine with new movements. This trains your body to adapt to new situations and increases its metabolic response to exercise and muscle development.
Try a few of these core exercises that will help strengthen core:
PLANK: start in a plank position on your forearms and shoulders directly over hands. Try to keep glutes aligned with body and core engaged. Range time from 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
BIRDDOGS: Start on your hands and knees with core engaged. Maintaining a tight core, extend your right leg behind you and your left arm in front of you, keeping your toes and fingers on the floor and alternate from each side.
JACKKNIFE: start in a plank position on your hands. Open and close legs in and out while engaging core and maintaining position.
Y-SQUAT: Stand with your feet at hip width and toes facing forward; if it feels more natural to have your toes slightly turned out, that’s fine. Raise your arms overhead in a Y position with your palms facing forward. Bend your knees you push your hips backward to lower into a squat. Go as low as you can while keeping your lower back flat and knees in line with your feet. Maintain the Y position with your arms and keep your elbows aligned with the sides of your head. Drive your weight through your heels as you engage your glutes and straighten your legs to rise to a standing position.
Try these exercises with some of your workouts and really focus on building a functional body! You will notice a huge difference with posture and strength.