We’ve all heard at one point or another that core training is important, but what is the core and why does it matter? The easiest example and way to FEEL the job the core was designed to do is to blow forcefully out of a small straw (such as a coffee stirrer) and feel the entire cylinder of muscle tense and contract.
Core = the space/musculature between the pelvis and the rib cage - NOT just the abdominals, but a 3-D cylinder of musculature. The core’s job is to protect and stabilize the lumbar spine - the only bony construction in this area - as well as improve force transmission to the limbs. The core accomplishes this via co-contraction (muscles on both sides of the joint contract) and utilizing pressure differentials and fluid dynamics to create a solid “base” for your extremities to move.
The analogy many like to use is the “double-topped soda can”. That is the top of the “can” is the diaphragm with the “hole” as the esophagus. The circumference of the can is the core musculature - including the internal and external obliques, transversus abdominus, rectus abdominus, quadratus lumborum, and the erector spinae group. The bottom of the can is the pelvic floor with the “hole” or “holes” hopefully being obvious.
Stability is created by the lumbar spine via co-contraction of the musculature described above on both sides of the joints- and ALL of it, not just the abdominal muscles. Many people falsely equate “core” training to strictly abdominal work including crunches and sit-ups.
Give this “dying bug” move a shot to feel it in action!
Now let's get to it. Check out this video for some options to add core training to your workouts:
Planks are a great exercise to add core work into your training. Check out this video for some spicy plank variations to make them more dynamic and exciting.
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