Whether you’re just starting out to work out or are a veteran, there’s one part of your body that is perhaps the most vital and shapes how the rest of your body can work out. It is the core. The core is a group of muscles throughout your torso, each providing support to your entire body. A strong core provides stabilization, balance, and power to the body during pretty much every activity. It is the basis of all of our powerful athletic movements. When we think or hear of the core, we often think of abs. But six-pack abs are not just the core. In fact, abs make up only a small part of your core. Here are the muscles that make up the core and ways you can strengthen your core.
There are a group of muscles that make up the core. The rectal abdominis is the front of the abdomen and is often referred to as the six-pack due to is appearance. The erector spinae run along your neck to the lower back. Multifidus are muscles that extend and rotate the spine. The external and internal obliques are on the side and front of the abdomen. The transverse abdominis wraps around the spine for protection and stability. Hip flexors are located in the front of the pelvis and upper thigh. Then we have the various glute muscles: gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and gluteus maximus, all muscles located on your hip and back of hip. There’s also the hip abductors which draw the legs into the midline. All of these muscles work together to make up the core.
The core transfers power and movement to our arms and legs so we can move and lift efficiently. A strong core can reduce stress in joints and helps protect against common injuries. Do you have lower back pain? Weak core muscles have been linked to lower back pain, as weak core muscles result in a loss of good posture. Strong core muscles help maintain appropriate posture, reducing strain on the spine. Having a stronger core ultimately will make you stronger and improve your athletic performance.
You may have seen people doing crunches and other ab exercises. While these are good ways to build core, they aren’t the only way. In fact, if you only do crunches you will not be able to build the rest of your core, since your core is made up of multiple muscles. One effective exercise to build the core is by performing a plank. To perform a plank, lay on the ground. Elevate yourself by resting your arms on the ground and lifting from your elbows. You should resemble what looks like a plank. Once you can do a plank, you can add variations to it. If you lay on each of your sides instead, you can isolate muscles on your side during a plank that would otherwise not be engaged during the exercise. The goal should be to be able to plank in all three positions for up to a minute each. It’s hard work but building your core will help support the rest of your body. Continue to do workouts that focus on your torso, not just your abs, in order to build up a stronger core.
Building your core can take time and it isn’t easy. However, with time and regular exercising, you can get a stronger core. A stronger core will make for a stronger you and more stability in your exercises. You can start with a plank. A few minutes of planks a day will slowly help you build core strength, and it’s easy to do and does not require weights. The next time you work out, make sure to add some core exercises to your routine.