It’s time to get one thing straight- a strong core has nothing to do with having washboard abs. Your core is the center of power and energy transfer in the body. It is literally responsible for getting you out of bed, helping you to bend, stretch and balance, protecting your spine and keeping you upright. Better yet, you can improve your core strength regardless of your fitness level, and once you learn to engage it properly you can keep it working throughout your day, regardless of the activity!
Why Is Training Your Core so Important?
The core is possibly one of the most neglected parts of a workout routine. Sure it can take a while to build the strength and will-power to actually enjoy working on your abs, but these aren’t just ‘mirror muscles’- they’re the powerhouse of the human body. Not only do they literally help you stay upright, but they also control movement from and around your pelvis, and are the connector between your upper and lower body- transferring energy and force between them.
If you don’t take the time to build your core stability you are more than likely going to compensate with other muscles, which can very quickly lead to back and neck pain but can also cause pain and discomfort in your hips and knees.
When we use the term ‘core’ we’re referring to all of the muscles around the mid-section. These means your:
- Abdominal muscles
- External and internal oblique muscles
- Lower back muscles
- Pelvis and hip flexors
- Pelvic floor muscles
When you consider these muscles are imperative in balance and stabilization, as well as the control of movement, side flexion, and most importantly- breathing- we can answer emphatically that yes, training your core is important!
Strengthen Your Core and Stabilize Your Body
Before we dive into some of the exercises you can do at home to begin (or continue) building your core strength, there are a few key lessons to understand before you get started.
1. Engage Your Core
To strengthen your core muscles, you need to actually engage them. It sounds simple, but all too often we see people using momentum or incorrect form, and greatly increasing the risk of injury, pain, and discomfort.
2. Use the Magic Formula
There is a magic formula for all exercises that engage your midsection. Using a 2-2-4 formula, the primary focus of these movements needs to be on the eccentric contraction (usually the ‘down’ phase of a movement) in order to fully engage and work the core.
In order to do this, we perform movements with two seconds concentric contraction (the ‘up’ phase), a two-second pause at the top (make sure you keep that core switched on!), and a 4 second ‘down’ phase, to really focus on the mind-muscle connection and get the most from each rep.
3. Don’t Forget to Breathe
The breath, especially properly timed breath, is imperative in any workout. Deflating the lungs at the right time can help you to fold, whilst inflating them can help to brace your lower back and spine and lift you back into position.
Of course, learning to use your breath to brace your body is an important step to fully engaging your core, but training your core isn’t all just sit-ups and crunches. Learning to consciously control your breath and working your diaphragmatic muscles can reduce stress, lower body fat, and help power you through your workouts.
Build Your Core from Your Lounge Room
Now that you understand the importance of starting right, let’s look at some exercises you can do at home to help improve your core strength, balance, stability, and range of motion.
Dead Bug (with or without bands)
Bonus: Use Your Breath to Engage Your Core
With the right technique, you can perform these movements anywhere, anytime.
But the hardest part is staying on track, and staying accountable! That’s why we’re giving away 1 month of free online personal training!
Simply use the code ‘firstmonth’ at checkout, or get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more 🙂