During the lockdown this 2020 spring, the obsession over workout videos claiming to grant six-pack abs was real. However, not only are those programs unrealistic, but strengthening abdominal muscles is more than an aesthetic.
Does it really matter if you have a strong core? Well, yes! It is vital to strengthen this muscle group in order to reach your fitness goals and max performance, as well as day-to-day physical activities.
Different Parts of the Core:
Your core includes the muscles around your torso and pelvis, and it is important to strengthen the whole core- not just the abs. Overtraining abdominal muscles while neglecting back and hip muscles can set you up for injuries, and it won’t benefit you as greatly. Here are the four biggest muscle groups within the core:
Traverse abdominis (located on the sides of the naval)
Internal and External obliques (located diagonally from your ribs to your pelvis)
Rectus abdominis (the “six-pack”)
Multifidus and erector spinae (located along the spine)
Benefits of Strengthening the Core:
Most physical activities depend on stable core muscles. They connect the upper and lower body, so most motions move through or originate in the core. This ranges from daily activities like bending, lifting, and twisting to playing sports. It is almost like a ripple effect! Here are some benefits of having a strong core:
Balance and Stability: The core stabilizes your body, which allows you to move in any direction and maintains your balance.
Injury Prevention: Having a strong core reduces stress on other parts of your body and helps you maintain proper form- both of which help prevent injuries.
Power: Coordination between your upper and lower body allows you to create more power in physical activities, which helps your performance.
Coordination:Training your core trains the muscles in your lower and upper body to work together, which makes you more coordinated in everyday activities and athletic activities.
Posture: Strong core muscles contribute to good posture, which projects confidence and protects your spine.
Here are a few core exercises to try that target different muscle groups in the core:
Strengthening your core is necessary for both day-to-day activities, as well as sports and more intense physical activities. However, a well-rounded core strength routine optimizes the benefits. It increases balance and stability, prevents injuries, creates power, trains coordination, and contributes to good posture, all of which will help you perform better in athletics.
"Core Exercises: Why You Should Strengthen Your Core Muscles." Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 29 Aug. 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/core-exercises/art-20044751#:~:text=Strong%20core%20muscles%20make%20it%20easier%20to%20do%20many%20activities,fatigue%2C%20less%20endurance%20and%20injuries. Accessed 27 Feb. 2021.
"Core Muscle Activation." Marshfield Clinic Health System, Marshfield Clinic, www.marshfieldclinic.org/sports-wrap/working-your-core-muscle-groups. Accessed 27 Feb. 2021.
"The Real-World Benefits of Strengthening Your Core." Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School, Harvard University., Jan. 2012, www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/the-real-world-benefits-of-strengthening-your-core. Accessed 27 Feb. 2021.