We all hear the term “core” often, but what exactly does that refer to? Essentially, our core is a group of muscles found in our midsection. These muscles are responsible in providing support for the majority of all human movement. The core includes not only our abdominal muscles, but also our glutes and low back muscles. No, this does not mean we need do crunches all day to see the results and reap the benefits of having a strong core.
We all know, and may even be working towards the famous 6-pack abs look (your diet plays a big part in this as well!) but why else would we want to give our core some extra attention? Well, it helps us with just about everything we do. One important benefit is improving our posture. By doing so, we will support our spine, which may even help us to reduce back pain. With the world of technology that we live in, and the way we operate daily, our anterior (the front side) of our body, is dominant. This leads to muscle imbalances and can cause a whole stream of issues with how our body’s function and respond to the stress that we put on it. Plus, our athletic and daily performance will also increase. Like I mentioned above, the majority of our movement is driven from our core. If that is weak our movements and performance will be weak.
If we do not have to do crunches all day to achieve a strong core, then how do we get there? One of the best tips I can give is a reference I use when working with clients and instructing classes; it is the Muscle and Mind Connection. Whether we are doing Yoga, Pilates, Running, Lifting, Biking or Walking, we need to always be engaging our core. Our movements should be intentional, we get so much more of it when we focus on what we are doing! Not only will this increase our core strength, but it will also help our form during these exercises. Form=Results. There are many core-focused exercises we can do; my personal favorite is the plank. There are numerous variations to this exercise. See the picture below for proper form (to modify: perform the exercise on your knees). My challenge for you is to incorporate planking and the muscle mind connection principle into your training. “Remember it’s all about the core, about the core….”