Good to the Core

10.18.2011 / Blog Posts Health and Wellness

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Did you know the core is more than just abs? Our contributing trainer, Becky, teaches us all of the core muscles and how to best hit them at the gym - or better yet, at home!

The core is more than just abs.

Many people I come across at the gym are concerned about making their core stronger. They know they need to, but don't really know why. Currently, there is a lot of buzz around core training in the fitness world and it has gained the attention of gym-goers everywhere.

Most think the core is the abdominal muscles; a nice 6-pack or a ripped stomach. The truth is abdominal muscles are a very small part of the core and have a limited and specific action. What experts refer to as the “core,” actually consists of all the muscles that stabilize the spine and pelvis, and run the length of the torso.

What Are The Core Muscles?

The core itself is the base of the body. The core muscles are the main support of the body and initiate movement. These muscles transfer energy, shift body weight and help us move in any direction.

- Rectus Abdominis - This muscle group is what we see in 6-pack abs.

- Internal and External Obliques - These run in opposite direction to each other on the abdomen and sides.

- Transverse Abdominals (TVA) - The deepest of the abdominal muscles located under the obliques. They wrap around your spine.

- Erector Spinae/Multifidus - The Erector Spinae are three muscles that run from neck to the lower back. Multifidis helps the spine rotate.

- Hip Flexors and Abductors - These are the muscles that move the hips and upper thighs.

- Gluteus Medius, Minimus and Maximus, Hamstring, Piriformis - These muscles are often referred to as the butt and are located in the upper thigh, side and back of the hip.

Benefits Of Good Core Strength

- A strong core reduces back pain. Weak and unbalanced core muscles are linked to lower back pain. Stronger, balanced core muscles help maintain appropriate posture and reduce strain on the spine.

- A strong core improves athletic performance. All powerful movements originate from the center of the body out - never from the arms and legs alone. The spine must be solid and stable before any powerful, fast muscle contractions can occur in the limbs. So the more solid the core, the more powerful the arms and legs can contract.

- A strong core improves postural imbalances.
A stronger core helps correct posture imbalances that can lead to injuries. The biggest benefit of core training is to develop functional fitness - the type of fitness that is essential to daily living and regular activities.

What Can I Do To Strengthen My Core?

There are many exercises that will lead to a stronger core. Core muscles need to work as a unit; contract at the same time across joints to stabilize the spine. Some of the best exercises are simple bodyweight exercises. Many can be done at home with no equipment.

Exercises That Build Core Strength

Plank Exercises
Side Plank Exercises
Plank with a Lat Row
Push Ups (Yes, push ups!)
Hip Bridge
Bicycle Crunch
Oblique Crunch
Plank on a Stability Ball
Lunges with a Torso Rotation

You can get a full body workout and strengthen your core all at the same time! Give some a try and you’ll be on your way to a stronger, healthier core.

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