When it comes to an exercise program, many individuals lack core strengthening exercises as a part of their routine. Some individuals do not realize the benefits of a strong core. Other individuals dislike performing core exercises. Whatever the reason is for not performing core exercises, you should start to include them in your program if you’re serious about improving your health.
A strong core can lead to many health benefits. Some benefits of a strong core include: Improved balance, posture, daily activities, athletic performance, appearance, self-esteem, and reduced back pain. This article is going to provide evidence on the importance of engaging your core during exercise.
How To Engage Your Core
When most individuals think about a strong core, a 6-pack of abdominal muscles comes to their mind. Having a 6-pack does not necessarily mean an individual has a strong core. A 6-pack can be the result of an individual being low in body fat, or following a healthy diet. Having a strong core is much more beneficial than just having an attractive body. “The major muscles that move, support and stabilize your spine are called the muscles of the core or trunk” (ACE.org, 2013). The core muscles include the trunk flexors, back extensors, internal and external obliques, transverse abdominis, and multifidi. A lack of a strong core can lead to an increased risk of injury.
The Best Core Exercises
There is an endless amount of core exercises available to strengthen the abdominal muscles. Just 10-20 minutes of cores exercises a day can lead to strengthening of the abdominals. Core exercises can be done many ways, including circuit training, or Pilates. It is important to use proper form when performing core exercises because improper form can lead to strain on the neck and back muscles.
Repetitions for core exercises can vary depending on the type of exercise, but higher repetitions often lead to more benefits. Core exercises can be done by functional training, or with the use of weights. The core is engaged through many different exercises, without knowingly activating it. While performing a squat, deadlift, bench press, etc. the core is engaged to use proper technique.
Some common core exercises include: sit-ups, planks, crunches, back extensions, leg raise, Russian twists, bridges, superman, and toe touches. The exercises vary depending on experience and difficulty. You can use your imagination when performing core exercises. There are so many different core exercises, and variations to each one. The best core exercises for you will depend on your time, abdominal strength, and experience.
The Benefits of A Strong Core
Like I have already mentioned, there are numerous benefits to a strong core. I am going to briefly go over each of the benefits.
✓ Improved Balance
Studies have shown that a strong core leads to improved balance. This could be the result of a weak core leading to lower extremity weakness and dysfunction.
✓ Improved Posture
Your core muscles stabilize your torso, which leads to proper alignment and improved posture.
✓ Improved Daily Activities
A strong core leads to proper alignment and improved posture, which results in the body requiring less energy to perform everyday tasks. A strong core will lead to less fatigue while performing daily activities. “Bending, lifting, twisting, carrying, hammering, and reaching overhead, are acts that spring from, or pass through, the core” (Healthbeat, 2012).
✓ Improved Athletic Performance
A strong core leads to better balance and stronger lower extremities, which results in increased performance.
✓ Improved Appearance
A strong core leads to more visible abdominal muscles, less body fat, and possibly a 6-pack. Visible abdominal muscles results in a more attractive physique for an individual.
✓ Improved Self-Esteem
A strong core leads to an improved physique and performance, which results in improved self-esteem for an individual. Individuals have more confidence when they’re comfortable with their appearance.
✓ Reduced Back Pain
A strong core leads to low body fat in the abdominal area, which places less stress on the back muscles. A strong core leads to improved alignment and strengthening of the back muscles, which results in reduced back pain, and a reduced risk of injury. “Low back pain may be prevented by exercises that promote well-balanced, resilient core muscles” (Healthbeat, 2012).
Take Home Message
In short, a strong core leads to many benefits, while a weak core leads to many risks. I know core exercises can be a pain to include into your exercise program, but they do not take a lot of time perform. You can improve your abdominal muscles by just taking 10-20 minutes out of your day to perform core exercises.
If you are serious about improving your health, then start including core exercises into your exercise routine. Strengthening your core can be as simple as making sure to engage your core during common exercises. I recommend including core exercises into your exercise program if you are looking to improve your everyday life, and reduce your risk of injury.