For years now, we have been fed with the wisdom pertaining strengthening the core, not understanding one bit what it actually meant. The simplistic view of all of it was the abdomen or more euphemistically the abdominal muscle. However, the abdomen was not just one contiguous phenomenon. It was the sum total of a few major portions and each one of them warranted focus. The core had just been rediscovered and how.
- 1 The Anatomy of the Core
- 2 Functions of the core
- 3 Core Exercise for Beginners
- 4 The Intermediate Core Workout
- 5 The Advanced Core Workout
- 6 Core Exercises for Women
- 7 Core Exercises for the Seniors
The Anatomy of the Core
The core comprises of three sets of muscle groups. Exercise these and you achieve a miracle out there, or more appropriately, gain well-defined city blocks.
The core is a set of primary muscles, which make the core, with interlinking boundaries and incredible responsibilities.
- The Pelvic Floor Muscles
- Transversus Abdominis
- Internal Obliques
- External Obliques
- Rectus Abdominis
- Erector Spinae, which includes the Longissimus Thoracis
There is a secondary set of muscles, which is also a part of the core and hence may be incorporated in the exercise regime, namely:
- The Lumbar muscles
- Quadratus Lumborum (deep portion)
- Deep rotators
- Cervical muscles
- Rectus Capitus anterior
- Rectus Capitus lateralis
- Longus coli
There is yet another tertiary group of muscles that are considered the minority group and make up the core:
- Latissimus Dorsi
- Gluteus Maximus
The above set of muscles form the incredible portion of the body, which we, as fitness practitioners, sweat to perfect. There is a reason why this area is so extremely important.
Functions of the core
The core muscle is solely responsible for controlling the bowel movements. Weak continence often leads to leaking bowel or lack of bladder control and that is primarily due to a dysfunctional pelvic floor. Remember, the primary objective of the core is to stabilize thorax and the pelvis during movements like reflux, urinating and discarding metabolic wastes from the body. Even retroperistalsis is an activity, which the core regulates.
The core plays a major role in assisting the patient in pushing the baby out. The transversus abdominis is the major muscle group, which enhances the pushing ability of the subject.
The Valsalva Manoeuvre
This is maneuver where the thorax is tightened in order to hold the breath. Lifting weights, excretion and giving birth are some of the occasions when this particular activity takes place.
The importance of the core lies in how the muscular-skeletal structure of the body pertains to a better posture. Every dynamic movement that the body undergoes is stabilized to a great extent by the core. This group of muscles is solely responsible to help align the spine, the ribs and the pelvis to help the body resist or respond to an external force, both static and in motion.
The core hence builds best when trained against gravity. That is the reason why resistance training is the best way to build those core muscles. Let us get to how to work out these core muscles.
Core Exercise for Beginners
- The venerable plank
- Dead bug
- Boat pose
This is a three-exercise workout, which should be the ideal platform, to begin with for the enthusiastic beginner.
The Intermediate Core Workout
- Hanging knee raise
- Ball push away
- Dumbbell plank
Once the body has been attuned to the severity of the workouts, then you can move towards the more advanced levels. Care needs to be taken while exercising. The body, in spite of being the wonderful machinery, is essentially delicate and any unnecessary jerks or bad angles can lead to unwanted twists and injury. In addition, do master the art of breathing. One of the important aspects of core exercises is to strengthen the diaphragm and breathing regimes go a long way in doing just that.
The Advanced Core Workout
- Wall plank
- Hanging toes to bar
Other exercises, which focus on the core, and can be incorporated into one’s advanced fitness regime, are:
- Rotational Pushup
- Dynamic Prone Plank
- Side Plank and this can only be done once the beginners and the intermediate levels have been mastered.
- Crunch – Care must be taken to properly master the breathing cycles.
- Shoulder bridge or formation of the arch
- Sprinter Sit up
- Single Leg Abdominal Press
- Double Leg Abdominal Press
All the above exercises building the core needs minute attention to detail and like any other exercise should never be rushed into.
Core Exercises for Women
While the basic set of workout remains the same, there are a few exercises, which may be more appropriate for the female body type. However, fitness is a unisex endeavor and everyone can do these exercises.
- Toe touch sit-ups
- Side plank lifts
- Triangular Crunch
- Plank Leg Lifts
- Seated Knee Tucks
- Alternative heel touch
- Plank Rotation
- Cobra lat pull-down
- Superman (or superwoman)
The caveat remains the same. These workouts must not be hurried and adequate hydration needs to be in place. Moreover, please do keep in mind that the breathing has to be perfect. Core muscles are all about inhaling and exhaling rightly. Make that diaphragm work like a locomotive.
Core Exercises for the Seniors
Now, as one age, muscles have a tendency to loosen. The core muscles are at greater risk since they are the stabilizing factor for the spine, ribs and the pelvis. With the bone structure weakening, the adjoining fibers also sag. A weak core also leads to urinary stress incontinence and hence the control over urinary release is considerably weakened. It becomes imperative for seniors to take precautions and core exercises are one way to overcome these challenges.
- Abdominal Bracing
- Wood Chops
- Dead Bug
- Bird Dog
Yoga and Tai Chi too are excellent tools to strengthen the core. Building the core does have its positives. One of them is gaining more control over one’s balance and the massive improvement one gets to see in the posture.
The benefits of building the core far outweigh any negatives if at all any exists. The only point to remember is being certain of what is to be done and then make incremental changes.
Go burn the core.