Don’t Sleep on the Benefits of a Strong CoreMay 19, 2022
Curious about the benefits of a strong core? Find out why your powerhouse matters and learn five moves to get a strong core faster.
So is all the hype about the benefits of a strong core true? Absolutely.
You probably know that having a strong core is crucial. But a strong core brings health benefits that go way beyond aesthetics.
Today, we will dig a little deeper to address why a strong core matters to your overall health and wellness journey.
BONUS: Read to the end for 5 of my fave Living BOLDER moves for optimal core strength and stability.
In Pilates, they refer to the core as "the powerhouse", but our core is more than just our abs.
The core includes:
- Postural muscles
- Pelvic floor
- and more
“It’s like a cylinder. Everything from our shoulder to shorts, front and back of the body,” says Rita Jenkins-Wolcott, founder of Living BOLDER. (Yes, I just quoted myself!)
Your core is so important because all movement stems from it. The core stabilizes and protects your spine and trunk; it also connects your upper and lower body and maintains your upright posture.
Without our core, we would essentially be a heap on the floor! It’s also important to understand that weak core muscles make you more susceptible to injuries.
Because the core moves in all three planes of motion, I teach three-dimensional core training to strengthen it effectively. That involves stabilization, flexion, extension lateral flexion and rotation. Of these, stabilization is the foundation.
Take a moment and think about how your body functions in daily life…
We rarely stand in place and move just one muscle in our body (think: biceps curls). Instead, we pick up heavy grocery bags and carry them into the house. Or we reach out to catch the watermelon rolling off the counter…with one hand, while off-balance and standing on one leg.
I am a big fan of functional training—a form of exercise that mimics how we move naturally and instinctively in our daily life. Every day, we push, pull, squat, hinge, rotate, and carry. Functional training works by using compound, multi-joint moves that recruit several muscle groups rather than isolating a single muscle or group.
A major benefit of functional training is that it strengthens the muscles you need to perform optimally each day. But it can also enhance your performance in other activities.
Love to golf or play tennis? Do you enjoy running? By strengthening your core, you can drive the ball further, return with more power, and run with fewer injuries.
What if you aren’t into sports? A strong, stable core makes it easier to do most physical activities. Plus, it can alleviate back pain, improve balance and stability, and promote good posture.
Simply put, everyone can benefit from strong core muscles. Ready to get to work on your core? Read on for 5 simple moves you need in your life!
FIVE SIMPLE MOVES FOR A STRONG, BALANCED CORE
These 5 foundational moves utilize a 3-dimensional approach to strengthen your core:
#1: Stabilization - Just starting out? Prioritize spinal stabilization.
PLANK - Planks are a fave because they hit just about every core muscle - shoulders, lats, glutes, legs, and of course, it’s a real burner for your abdominal muscles. Start with static holds. When you can hold 30 seconds, you might try adding a little movement like shoulder taps or leg lifts.
You can modify a plank by setting your knees down. Wrist or shoulder issues? Come to your forearms or take your plank against a wall or countertop.
#2: Spinal Flexion
Since we sit so much during the day, our spine is often in a forward flexed position. Exercises like crunches (often the “go-to” for ab work), can put excessive pressure on spinal discs. Minimize exercises like crunches and curls and try this instead:
PLANK KNEE PULLS: From a plank position, pull one knee in towards your chest. Hold for a second, then switch legs.
#3: Spinal Extension
Great to counter the effects of sitting!
BIRD-DOGS: From a quadruped (hands & knees) position, extend your right arm forward and your left leg behind you. Switch arm/leg. Move slowly, keeping your core tight and hips and shoulders square to the floor.
#4: Lateral Flexion
This will target your obliques.
SIDE PLANK: From a forearm plank, rotate to one side. Stack your shoulders and hips and make sure your elbow is directly under your shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch to the other side.
To make it easier: Place your knees down and bend them so your feet are behind you. To make it harder: Lift and lower your top leg.
Not all core work has to be done on the floor. I love incorporating boxing drills to target the obliques and get the heart rate up - a win-win!
CROSS PUNCHES: Stand with feet shoulder width apart, knees soft. Guard your face with your fists, then throw alternating punches forward (and slightly across the body), aiming for the nose-lip-chin of your imaginary opponent. Allow your feet to pivot as you punch and rotate your torso slightly side to side.
Questions? Shoot me an email at [email protected].
If you are just getting back into a fitness routine (or want to!), check out my blog on 7 Ways to Modify a Workout so it Works for YOU.