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Our core muscle group is what supports our entire body. Maintaining a strong core is essential for the proper form and strength it takes to perform movement correctly. Without engaging our core muscles we overwork our other muscles and joints in our body, risking possible injury.
Learn why strengthening our core muscle group is so important and try using a few of these exercises from our expert contributors to keep your training effective.
Core Training is Essential to Proper Physical Function and Muscle Development
It is important to note that your core is not just your abdominal muscles, but a series of about 29 muscles necessary for stability and strength. The muscles that make up the core include your abs, obliques, glutes, hamstrings, erector spinae and hip muscles. Core strength building exercises can be included in EVERY work out. When building your core strength, certain integration and activation exercises should be included in your routine. These include hip extensions, wall hip abductions, bridges, side plank lifts, standing abductions, straight leg sit ups, reverse crunches, kneeling chops, squats and deadlifts (among others).
Strong Core, Strong Body
To have a strong core you need to strengthen surrounding and opposing muscle groups including shoulders, back, abdominal muscles as well as the gluteal area. Exercises that I recommend include: planks (side plank as well as prone), bicycle crunches, Pilates exercises, back extension exercises (alternating arm-and-leg superman and superman) push-ups as well as squats and lunges. Focus on quality of the exercises over quantity done.
Core training can be done 4-5x/week as either a complete workout or added to the end of an cardio or strength training session. I also recommend clients work to work on their posture hourly; standing tall with a neutral spine and practice engaging abdominal muscles (imagine you are zipping up a snug pair of jeans and as you are fastening the button pull your abdominal muscles in and up). Work on core stability while you work and sit on a stability ball instead of a chair.
F.I.L Those Muscles Out!
Along with a sound diet, follow these principles for a perfect combination of size and strength to those core muscles. F= Frequency. Aim for a training session that consists of 5-7 per week.
I= Intensity This is the amount of work required. This is were most people go wrong at. there is a certain “sweet spot” that needs to be achieved in order to get that physique you desire.1 repetition until muscle failure is known as your 1 rep max.(100%). aim at a medium intensity weight representing 50%-70% of your 1RM
L= Load(volume) Your volume should consist of about 4-8 sets per exercise. use good form with gradual increases in the success formula of Intensity x Volume
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