The term "core" is used in fitness magazines, on TV, well everywhere really. Everyone seems concerned with theirs and when I meet with new clients one of the first things they say is that they need to strengthen their core!
A strong core area is important for posture, stability, lifting, sitting, etc and when you think about it the legs and arms all attach to it and use it for support and for leverage.

So what is the core?

When you say core most people think of 6 pack abs with a tight layer of skin pulled tight over them, but the 6 pack muscles are just the surface muscles, the ones that do the work are underneath. The core muscles are layered and they are also angled and wrapped around the torso to give strength and stabilitycore muscles in all directions. It is the muscles that flank the spine, it’s the muscles of the pelvic floor and diaphragm, some would argue that it is even the hip, chest and upper back muscles too, as they all interconnect.

Why so weak?

Core strength diminishes by not being used, just like any muscle does. We tend sit to much and in a poor position, leaning forward slightly and rest our rib cage on our stomachs instead of being erect with our shoulders back and down. We drive like this, operate computers/tablets/smart phones like this too. Poor hip mobilization also contributes to bad posture as the core section is contorted to compensate. Another factor in the weak core is the use of machines at the gym. Sitting at a machine doing bicep curls isolates the biceps, standing doing curls with 2 dumbbells or a barbell uses the core to stabilise the body while the exercise is being performed.

How can I make my core stronger?

First and foremost is to engage the muscles in the core whenever you can. I know you hear trainers say “engage” the core but what this mean, and how is it done? Well, as I said earlier the core is made of different muscles, so the easiest way to engage them is to hold them tight like you are bracing them as if someone is going to punch you in the stomach area. Try to use only free weights instead of machines at the gym and when you carry out core exercises don’t just do crunches, work all the muscles, so do planks, side planks, spider man, super man, Russian twists, etc, etc. The best exercises for inner core strength are planks and roll outs, these really work deep tissues.
Lastly my best tip is to connect to the muscles to want to work, work them using your conscious brain, don’t just let your unconscious mind select the ones it thinks you need, remember the best exercise is the one you are thinking about!

Yours in health

Richard

2016-01-20 13:55:14