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Core and ab exercises are an important part of a well-rounded fitness program. Aside from occasional situps and pushups, however, core exercises are often neglected. Still, it pays to get your core muscles — the muscles around your trunk and pelvis in better shape.
Core exercises train the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen to work in harmony. This leads to better balance and stability, whether on the playing field or in daily activities. In fact, most sports and other physical activities depend on stable core muscles.
Want more-defined abdominal muscles? Core exercises are important. Although it takes aerobic activity to burn abdominal fat, core exercises can strengthen and tone the underlying muscles.
Let's have a quick lowdown of the core, what it’s all about and what it does!
Where are the core muscles?
Core muscles are located deep within your trunk, extending from the base of your head to your pelvis. They include: Traverse abdominis (located on each side of the naval) internal and external obliques (extending diagonally from ribs to pelvis).
What are the core muscles?
Major muscles included are the pelvic floor muscles, transverses abdominis, multifidus, internal and external obliques, rectus abdominis, erector spinae and diaphragm. Minor core muscles include the latissimus dorsi, gluteus maximus and trapezius.
What’s the function of the core?
The functions of the core are respiration (breathing), continence, postural control, joint/segment stabilization, movement generation and energy transfer (Kiesel). In order to efficiently perform the most basic movements, in addition to high-level athletic feats, an individual must have a functioning inner core.
Why is core strength important?
Strong core muscles make it easier to do most physical activities. Strong core muscles make it easier to do many activities, such as swing a golf club, get a glass from the top shelf and bend down to tie your shoes. Weak core muscles can also leave you susceptible to poor posture, lower back pain and muscle injuries.
TOP TIPS ON FORM
When training your core, good form is paramount, raising your body without the use of momentum in about 1 - 2 seconds, pausing distinctly in the contracted (or mid-range) position and lowering your body under control in about 3 - 4 seconds are all examples of good form.
This will ensure that your abdominal muscles are raising your body (rather than momentum) and that your chances of incurring an injury while strength training are minimized. So, when completing core workouts ensure you obey to the below rules:
- Keep tension on the abdominals throughout the entire duration of the exercise.
- Breath out and tighten the abs during the exertion of the exercise.
- Press your lower back (flatten it) down towards the floor while crunching.
- Place your hand behind you neck and not on your head
- Only crunch up for 4 to 6 inches.
5 Signs Your Core is Weak
A weak core can affect your performance in the gym or your performance in other sports. There are a few warning signs you could pay attention too in order to understand if you have a weak core. These include:
- A sore back. The most common side effect of a weak core is back pain, and yet most people still don't consider core strengthening as a way to address those problems.
- You have poor balance.
- You slouch all the time.
- Your feet and wrists hurt.
- You're always holding your breath.
Your Core Circuit
Try this bodyweight core circuit to get your abs firing. Remember the tips on good for and take your time executing the movements perfectly.
Circuit – Complete 4 times with 1-minute rest in between circuits
- 20 Knee crunches
- 20 flutter kicks
- 30 second plank
- 20 heel touches
- 20 russian twists
- 12 leg raises
- 12 reverse crunch