Don’t be confined!
Core workouts can be a bit boring or confined. OK, you might be one of those people who love the core burnout (I also fit that particular bill) but the movements in many a core workout are limited to floor exercise or lateral movements that focus puerly on the “core” with a seemingly limitless different type of crunches. The problem with this is that your core works hard all day long but most of that time is not lying down and movements are complex and composite. So if we want to explore the core and really improve its functionality then we should be working it in many different ways so it is developed to meet your personal needs.
What is the core?
First of all what is the core? Well, it isn’t just your abdominals – they are the set of muscles that are often mistaken for being core but the abdominals are just part of the story. The core is range of internal muscles such as the transverse abdominals, multifidus, diaphragm, pelvic floor, amongst others that are used to help stabilize and help transfer power as well as being a major factor in nearly every movemnt and posture we do.
How to work your core?
This bit is easy to say but not so easy to practice – just think about it! Literally just think about using your core during your exercise routine to improve its functionality. You can still add in a few isolation exercises making sure you hit the forward / backward folds (e.g. crunches and torso raises), the side bends (e.g. oblique crunches) and twisting (e.g. russian twists) as well as static holds (e.g. the plank), but let your routine focus more on core. Deadlifts, push ups, pull ups, kicking, jumping, crawling, bench pressing; reagrdless of your exercise make the core a focus for controlling the movement and you’ll improve your performance in your chosen field as your core becomes stronger and more dynamic.
A tip to maintain core control is using the same muscles you use to stop yourself from urinating, just lightly contract them instead. The hips should pulled up and forwad, the belly button pulled in to the spine, the lower ribs pulled down into the your front pockets and the shoulder blades weigh heavy down the back. Don’t tense though, suybtle and comfortable is the key!
You might want to be the best you can be in your chosen activity, or you may want to decrease your chances of injury, it could be you are fixing ailments such as bad backs or you may want a six pack to show off. All these goals neeed a lot of work to attain them but one thing is for sure; your core is essential to reach these heights.
Let’s not ditch the crunches but it is possible to work the core harder by focusing on the role your core has to play in your workout or sport. It doesn’t stop there either, your core is used all the time even when you are standing up and sitting down. So keep the core tight, maintain good posture and you’ll be less prone to injury, ailments and have increased performance!