Updated: Jan 29
Hi Friends of Oompf, it's Alvan here. Today I will be talking about the core muscles and its importance.
Why is it important to have a strong core?
Having a strong core is your foundation to everything you do in your life – literally! The benefits ranges from an important aspect of physical fitness to your daily movements in life (even those you do not actually think about actively).
I will talk about some parts of your life you actually use your core and benefits of it:
Daily life Simple movements such as bending to put on your shoes, picking up a package from the floor, turning to look behind you, sitting in a chair, or simply standing still — these are just a few of the many actions that rely on your core and you might not notice until they become difficult or painful.
Job Movements that involve lifting, twisting, and standing all rely on core muscles including less obvious tasks like sitting at your desk for hours engage your core as well. Sitting for long hours in front of the computer/laptop can make your back muscles surprisingly stiff and sore, especially if you are not taking a break to move your body and not strong enough to support your posture while sitting.
Sports Golf, tennis, biking, running, swimming, cycling, rowing and many other athletic activities, without a doubt, uses your core.
Housework Bending, lifting, twisting, carrying, hammering, reaching overhead even vacuuming and mopping works the core.
Balance and stability Your core stabilizes your body, allowing you to move in any direction, even on the bumpiest terrain, or stand in one spot without losing your balance.
Good posture Weak core muscles contribute to slouching. Good posture is important as it lessens wear and tear on the spine and improves breathing as well. Furthermore, it projects confidence.
Pain free back Getting a pain free back (if you are already suffering from chronic pain on your lower back) involves core exercises alongside with other forms of treatments.
Now that you are aware that a strong core is so important, the next question is, “How do you strengthen your core?”
First of all, you must know a few things:
1. Your core is more than just your abs.
Before you can strengthen your core, you have to know what exactly your core is. I have been asked many times over and over since I began doing personal training by clients to focus on strengthening their core but they have no idea what their core is or at least the think know what it is.
And trust me, it’s much more than just your abdominal muscles or six pack.
Your core is basically the section mainly around your hip region – front, back, side, slightly above and below the hips too. It is all around and deep within your body. This includes not only your outer abdominal muscles, but also your deepest abdominal muscles (also known as your transverse abdominals), your entire back muscles, your pelvic muscles, the muscles at the side and back of your hips, your upper thighs and more. If you want a stronger core, you can’t just focus on achieving six packs.
2. A strong core does not mean a flat stomach.
Strengthening your core means building up your core muscles. But if you have fat around your tummy, these muscles will still be hidden by fat. If you want a flat stomach, a well-designed nutrition program is the main factor to help you to burn fat. That is the best way and the only way. On the other hand, if you are following a well-designed program, don’t be discouraged if you do not see any changes in the mirror. Those deep core muscles may be getting stronger even if you can’t see it.
3. A strong core does not mean you won’t have back pain.
No doubt, it will help with lower back pain mentioned earlier however, the source of back problems is more than just a weak core. Building your core muscles is only one part of having a pain-free back. Things like good posture, efficient movement, good cardiovascular fitness, and flexibility all factor in to having a healthy back.
4. When it comes to core exercises, form over everything.
Doing thousands of reps isn’t the key to building core strength. Doing lesser reps but quality ones is the key to improving core strength. It is more important to perform 12- 15 repetitions that focus on perfect technique and target the right muscles than to cheat the exercise to attain a high rep. Make sure that you know the proper form. Focus on doing each move correctly and if you start to lose form, take a break.
So, how to strengthen your core?
Referring back to my point earlier on, you cannot just train your six packs. Your core includes lots of muscles. Six-pack training only focuses on some of the superficial muscles, ignoring all of the deep muscle layers and other superficial muscles. A good core regimen includes a variety of exercises that target different core muscles. Other basic core exercises include planks, V-sits, bridges, oblique twists and superman. One of the best workouts for core integration is the usage of the TRX suspension trainer. It integrates other type of movement into the exercise. Therefore, most exercises involving the TRX would have fired up your core pretty much in the process.
So, don’t think about just achieving your dream six packs. Think about achieving optimal functionality, pain free movement and quality of life which are more reasons to wanting to get a strong core.
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