Saturday, 3 August 2013

The Importance of Engaging Our Core

Core fitness is a term that is widely used by fitness professionals. Most times I step foot in the gym I hear trainers telling members, "Make sure you engage your core!" - but why is that so important? And what precisely do they mean by the core?

Simply speaking your core is the belt that runs around your mid-section, which includes your stomach muscles and lower back muscles. Fitness professionals believe that strong core muscles provide the basis of any fitness program. That's not only because none of us want a beer belly, but also because stong abdominals hold in our internal organs, whilst a stong lower back will support your spine. Working together these muscles are key to just about every human action from walking and running to turning (rotating), sitting and bending.

Because the abdominals are composed of different muscles we need to be doing various exercises to hit the abdominals from all angles including front flexion (such as sit-up), side-flexion (such as oblique crunches) and to work our deep abdominal muscles (such as the plank).

Whilst many people try to spend a portion of their workout on such exercises, many fitness experts now believe that we should simply incorporate core exercises more as part of more general exercise. Examples may include boxing or TRX training. Almost all moves in either of these pursuits will use the abs. Yet even in exercises like lunges we can introduce a medicine ball and incorporate rotational twists to work the core. The more we can work the core the stronger our body will become. Adding exercises like squats, deadlifts and planks will also increase our lower back strength - improving posture, flexibiltity and reducuing lower back pain.

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