Your core is responsible for all movement, stabilization and transfer of energy in your body. The muscles that make up your core are responsible for everything from good posture to bladder control. And yes, improved performance in the bedroom.
Did you know a major cause of low back pain is an imbalance of core strength and flexibility?
A strong core is essential for maximum efficiency of power and movement.
If you are an athlete, kicking a ball, throwing a punch, or running a marathon a weak core will detract from your performance. Or maybe you are just active with every day activities such as picking up the baby and raking the lawn. A strong well-balanced core will ensure ease of movement, increasing confidence and quality of life.
The significant benefits of proper core training increase the proficiency to any activity you are involved in. This is because the area around your trunk and pelvis is where your center of gravity is located, your center of stability. A strong core gives you:
- Better posture
- More control
- Improved, more powerful performance
- Injury prevention and rehabilitation
- Increased protection and "bracing" for your back
- A more stable center of gravity
- A more stable platform for sports movements
When you have good core stability, the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen work harmoniously providing important support to your spine, maximizing power transition for just about any activity.
What and where is your core?
When I ask people where their core is and how to strengthen it most respond with “oh, those are my abdominal muscles. I do crunches and leg lifts to strengthen them and develop my six pack.”
Your core actually consists of many muscle groups working together. The internal and external oblique, transverses abdominis, rectus abdominis, psoas major, quadratus lumborum, and the spinalis group are the primary muscles making up your core.
For the purpose of complete development it would be wise to include the gluteus muscles and hamstrings, hip flexors, rhomboids, trapizius, latissimus dorsi, and the seratus group.
So what constitutes a well-developed core?
You may feel that because you can perform 200 crunches, 150 pikes or 100 leg lifts with a medicine ball between your feet you have a well-developed core. Not so. What you have is a core with great muscular endurance, but that is only one component of a well-developed synergistic core. Proper core training includes muscular strength, muscular endurance, power and motor control. Without these four components your core is not balanced and is performing sub maximal. You are losing power in all your daily activities as well as any sport you may participate in. Proper core development is paramount to maximizing your potential and efficiency of motion, not just for sports but also for all your daily activities. Proper core training requires that you train your core not just in a unidirectional manner but also in a multidirectional fashion such as it is used in every day living. The entire core must be trained each session, not just certain muscle groups. Synergism is all-important in core training so as to eliminate all imbalances between the many muscle groups that make up your core.
When and how should you train your core?
When depends on your level of fitness. Beginners, less than three months training, should train their core no more than once or twice per week. More advanced trainers, three months to less than two years of training; three to four times per week is sufficient. For the elite athlete the core may be trained every second day varying the intensity with each session.
The entire core should be trained each session. The core should be worked in a multi directional fashion to ensure proper strength, flexibility, and balance, between all the muscle groups. This method of training also teaches the muscle groups to work synergistically as needed, increasing coordination and power while decreasing reaction time.
For most of us the core should be worked using smooth continuous motions. Any speed or ballistic drills are reserved for the elite athlete only.
On all extended motions it is imperative that the body be kept in a neutral or plank position. As you perform your core exercises try to draw your belly button in toward your spine and contract the gluteus muscles. This will ensure proper stabilization and provide protection for the low back.
Breathing is extremely important for proper core development. For all movements you will exhale during the contraction phase unless instructed to do otherwise. Breathe deeply, this is very important. If someone else is in the room they should have no trouble hearing you breathe. When you breathe in try to feel your breath going all the way down to your toes. When you exhale contract your core muscles hard and push all the air out, this is essential.
When following a proper core program you will notice results immediately.
So how long does all this take if you have to train your entire core each time? The answer may surprise you. Your entire core can be trained effectively in ten minutes. That’s right, there are no excuses. A better quality of life can be had for as little as ten minutes a day a couple of times per week. Make the decision to start today. You are worth it!!