Core 101 – “Don’t Settle for a Six-Pack”!
To build a strong core you need to exercise a variety of muscles, from your hips to your shoulders. It’s not enough to just do crunches and sit ups!
Most people think of the core as a nice six-pack, or flat, toned abs, but the “core” actually consists of different muscles that run the entire length of the torso. Core exercises need to target all these muscle groups to be effective.
Beyond just that great “six-pack,” a strong core also reduces back pain, improves athletic performance, and improves your posture. The biggest benefit of core training is to develop functional fitness – the type of fitness that’s essential to daily living and regular activities.
Rather than “isolating” the abs, core strengthening exercises are most effective when the torso works as a solid unit with both front and back muscles contracting at the same time. Abdominal bracing is a basic technique used during core exercise training. To brace correctly, you should attempt to pull your navel back in toward your spine and think about narrowing your waist. You should be able to breathe evenly while bracing so don’t hold your breath. Imagine someone is about to punch you in the stomach as hard as they can and hold your midsection tight as if you’re preparing for that… not like you’re “sucking it in” while walking down the beach.
Some great core exercises include planks and side planks, v-sits, hip lifts, oblique twists, lunges with a twist, push-ups, supermans, and squats. Some awesome equipment for core training include bosu balls, medicine balls, kettlebells, and stability balls.
A strong, fit core helps your daily activities become easier to do and improves your performance in sports and exercise. You can incorporate core strengthening in your workouts by taking some of your ab exercises off the floor and doing them standing or on a stability ball. Don’t settle for a six-pack when you can strengthen your entire core!
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