You’re at the gym. You’re getting a little sweat going on the cardio machine, trying to stay motivated as you increase that calorie burn. You decide to eavesdrop on the trainer close by that apparently wants to make an example out of his client by having them do some outrageous plank exercise with one arm and a leg raised in the air. “15 more seconds!” You hear him shout out to this poor individual dripping in sweat. “Keep it strong, you’re almost done. Engage that core!” Those infamous words you hear every trainer at every gym, in every session say…. CORE.
So what’s this muscle group that you hear so much about and why is it so important? My goal is to give you a much clearer understanding of this so that you’re aware of how to improve your movements by using… that’s right… your core. One site defines core as the central, innermost, or most essential part of anything. This definition can be very helpful as we go into more detail on the importance of it.
The major muscles that make up the core are the rectus and transversus abdominis, internal and external obliques, spinal erectors and multifidus. These muscles help you perform everyday activities like bending over and standing up. They work with other core muscles to assist with posture. Minor core muscles (we can’t neglect the little ones) would include the latissimus dorsi, gluteus maximus, and trapezius. These are the muscles that support your abs and help you with actions like sitting up at your desk, bending to tie your shoe or reaching up to take something off a shelf.
So now that we are all clear on what core is and why it is important….let’s move on…..right? Not exactly clear? Join the crowd. I want to hopefully demystify this word and examine why it’s truly central to our fitness. Think of core in terms of the framework of your car. Without a strong and sturdy frame, your car cannot run smoothly and you run the constant risk of your car breaking down. It simply will not hold up let alone run efficiently without a strong frame. Likewise, your body cannot perform optimally without a strong core. Let me give you another example. As a potential homebuyer, when you look at a house and have an inspection done, you want to know about the strength of the foundation. A poor or troubled foundation will not support one of your most important investments and problems are bound to happen. Think of the foundation as the core of the house. Think of your core as your framework As a client of ours, we simply cannot afford to have you fall down flat on your butt because of a weak core. That is why we are constantly working on it. It is so vitally important for all of us to build a strong core because it is the foundation to a healthy and robust physical fitness experience.
If this is something that has your attention, and you are so motivated to make your foundation strong that you simply can’t wait until your next Elevate Fitness training session, here are some exercise that you can try in the interim. These workouts specifically target those muscle that are the foundation of your fitness:
- Begin in this position with your forearms and toes on the floor.
- Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
- Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
- Hold this position for 45 seconds to start.
- Over time work up to 60, 90 and 120 seconds.
- Begin by laying on your side on the floor.
- Position your elbow on the floor just under your shoulder.
- Lift up on that elbow and keep your body stiff from head to toe.
- Hold this position for a count of 10-30 seconds and lower your hip to the floor.
- Switch sides and repeat the exercise on the other hip.
- You can increase the effect of this exercise by lifting the top leg up toward the ceiling. Repeat the 12-15 times slowly and return to the start position.
- Lay on your back with your hands by your sides, your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Make sure your feet are under your knees.
- Tighten your abdominal and butt muscles.
- Raise your hips up to create a straight line from your knees to shoulders.
- Squeeze your abs and try to pull your belly button back toward your spine.
- If your hips sag or drop, lower yourself back on the floor.
- The goal is to maintain a straight line from your shoulders to your knees and hold for 60 to 90 seconds.
- Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor (easier) or raised up off the floor (more difficult).
- Contract your abs and sit at about a 45 degrees angle.
- Hold out your arms directly in front of you.
- Contracting your abs, twist slowly from your torso to your right and have hands come close to the floor beside you.
- Quickly, but smoothly, contract your abs and twist your torso and bring your arms to the other side.
- Repeat for the desired number of reps (shoot for 15-20).
Strengthening the foundation of your body which we refer to as your core helps improve all areas of physical activity since those muscles are the ones you utilize in everyday life. So keep your foundation strong and you’ll be sure to have a strong sturdy temple for a long time to come. As always, we are here to help, so if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask! And remember… GET LIFTED!