Your core is the center of your body. And believe it or not, many body movements involve the core in one way or another. Contrary to popular belief, this area consists of more than just the abs. Abs are only one part.
What Is Your Core?
The primary area of the core is made up of the rectus abdominis, inner and outer obliques, erector spinae, glutes and hamstrings. The fact that this region encompasses such a large area is an indicator of its value.
Why Working Your Core Is So Important
If you were to ignore training your core, you can experience a battery of issues, such as:
- lower back pain
- bad balance
- postural distortions (rounded shoulders, excessive lower spine curvature or external foot rotation … Yes, your feet can actually be affected too.)
If your glutes are weak, they can cause the femurs to rotate outward. This then transfers all the way down to the feet, causing the exact same thing to happen. Have you ever walked behind someone who walks duck-footed? Well now you know why.
Getting up from a chair is just as important as walking. Your core needs to be strong to keep your upper body erect while seated and when standing up. This also applies to riding a bike. If you have a weak core, you will not be able to stay upright for too long without experiencing scorching lower back pain.
Force production is another thing to consider. Let’s go back to the bike example. It takes a lot of power to push hard when you are climbing a hill or opening it up on a straightaway. If your core is mush, you will spend most of this time struggling miserably. Your will also be challenged with a lack of stability.
The power aspect doesn’t end with biking either. Contact sports like football, mixed martial arts, ice hockey and even basketball require you to take and make hits, fend off opponents and remain balanced at all times. If you neglect your core, don’t expect to win any trophies or titles.
Baseball, tennis, racquetball, golf, volleyball and swimming all require strong core muscles as well. Any time you are rotating from the hips, jumping in the air, throwing a ball or object, or reaching with your arms or legs, you need to enlist at least some part of your core.
Best Core Exercises
It’s only fitting that you know a good way to strengthen your core so you can avoid a lot of the pitfalls mentioned above. And just for the record, ab crunches alone are not going to get the job done. The only muscle group they target is the rectus abdominis. You still have the obliques, glutes, erector spinae and hamstrings to contend with. Keep ALL of these areas in mind when it comes to training.
So along with your crunches, also add:
- Stiff-leg deadlifts
- Plank with leg raises
- Hanging knee raises
- Medicine ball with twists
- Side dips
If you’re a beginner (just starting out), here is a list of really good core exercises to start out with: 6 Easy Exercises to Strengthen Your Core.
This way you will get movement patterns in that simulate real life actions and you will ensure that all areas of your core will be targeted.
As you can see, there are many good reasons to keep your core strong, fit and fantastic. Focus on the right training protocols and you will never have to worry about injury or imbalances.