If you’ve spent any time reading about, talking about or, even better, actually doing exercise, you’ve no doubt heard that you need to work on your core. Not just your abs, but your core. Now, most of us think the core is just another name for your abs, but it actually involves much more than that.
In fact, the core is the body’s center of power, so the stronger you are in that area, the easier your life will be.
What Is The Core?
When someone talks about the core, they’re referring the muscles deep within the abs and back, attaching to the spine or pelvis. Some of these muscles include the transversus abdominis (TVA), the muscles of the pelvic floor, the lats and the obliques, just to name a few. These muscles are where movement originates and it’s also the source of our stability. Whether you’re running, lifting weights or picking up your toddler, these ‘core’ muscles help keep your body stable and balanced.
With this focus on core strength, we’re moving away from moves that isolate the abs and incorporating more core training throughout your workout. This type of functional training can be seen everywhere as more people use things like stability balls and medicine balls in their regular workouts.
Why You Should Work Your Core
A strong, fit core doesn’t just help you look good, it also:
- Helps daily activities become easier
- Improves your performance in sports and exercise
- Reduces your risk of injury
- Gives you new ideas for how to exercise to keep your workouts interesting
Adding functional core work to your workouts is as simple as taking some of your ab exercises off the floor.
Enhancing Your Core Strength
Incorporating more functional training into your workouts may be as simple as changing or adding new exercises to your usual routine. The following are just some ideas for making your ab/back workouts a little more dynamic:
- Pikes on the Ball
- Side Plank
- Ball Crunch with Med Ball
- Standing Ab Workout
Another way to make your workouts more functional is to add new equipment to your exercises. Adding an element of balance will naturally engage your core and add a whole new dimension to your training. Some ideas include:
- Stability Balls. You can use exercise balls in a variety of ways to challenge balance, stability and torso strength.
- BOSU. This is an excellent piece of equipment that can be used for everything from cardio to sports specific training.
- Yoga and Pilates. These types of exercises inherently challenge your balance, flexibility and torso strength, particularly Pilates.
- Foam roller. Using a foam roller in your workouts will enhance balance, body awareness, flexibility and torso strength.