Many people train their core for one reason only—to get defined abs. There are many things wrong with this. First, like stated in the blog “Myths, Tips, and Tricks on Losing Stomach Fat”, core exercises will not inevitably result in abs; your diet and body-fat percentage will ultimately determine whether or not you have a six-pack. Second, chances are the majority of people who think that crunches will get them abs are the same people who are not educated on proper form and technique when it comes to executing core exercises. This will quickly lead to things like muscle imbalances, lower back pain, and injury, leaving you in even worse condition than before. Being healthy is not about looking your absolute best. Exercising is about feeling your absolute best and becoming the healthiest version of yourself.
It’s important to understand what the core is first and foremost. The core consists of the structures that make up the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex (LPHC), including the lumbar spine, the pelvic girdle, abdomen, and the hip joint. The core is not simply the rectus abdominis, which is what most people think of as abs. Instead, it is composed of the entire trunk of the body.
The core is where the body’s center of gravity is located and where all movement originates. A strong and efficient core is necessary for maintaining proper muscle balance throughout the entire human movement system. If the core is unstable during movement, it does not allow optimal stabilization, force reduction and production, and transference to occur throughout the kinetic chain.
The objective of core training is to uniformly strengthen the deep and superficial muscles that stabilize, align, and move the trunk of the body, especially the abdominals and muscles of the back. Yes, training the core will result in a flatter stomach, but more importantly, training the core will increase stabilization of the core musculature, preventing injury.
We use our core at all times of the day; in every move we make, our core musculature is activated. From sitting to standing and everything in between, core muscles are what keeps you upright and your posture in check. A weak core leads to inefficient everyday movement that may lead to predictable patterns of injury. This is why it is imperative to follow a progressive core training program.
As with all forms of exercise, engaging the intended muscles during exercise is more important than increasing the external resistance. Focus on performing core exercises that involve little to no motion through the spine and pelvis first. Things like planks, floor bridges, and floor prone cobras are great exercises that involve little spinal motion so that you can really focus on drawing the navel in toward the spine and activating your core.
When doing these exercises, you may feel as if you’re not receiving much benefit from it or that your fitness level is far beyond these movements since they involve little motion, but core training should be done from the inside out meaning you need to ensure that your local core stabilizer muscles that attach directly to the vertebrae are efficient before performing exercises that take the rest of the core muscles through a complete range of motion.
I hope you’re now convinced to incorporate a progressive core training program into your routine. Your posture, movement patterns, and overall strength will all thank you for investing time into them.