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How To Strengthen Core Muscles, Core Who?

I plan to discuss the muscles that make up the core, what the core muscles do in everyday life, whether these muscles are important or not, and finally some exercises on how to strengthen the core muscles or build your core muscles.

The Core Muscles

When we think about or say core muscles. A lot of people instantly go to the thought of abs or the six-pack muscles. Not quite so, I can tell you that there are many little helper muscles of the core. To set the context, I would like you to think about the muscles you use while rotating, bending or curling your upper body, or twisting. If you are going to move your body without using your arms or legs, the core muscles are involved. Some major muscles of the core are, The External Obliques, The Internal Obliques, The Transverse Abdominis, The Rectus Abdominis, The Multifidus, The Gluteus Maximus, The Gluteus Medius, The Gluteus Minimus, and The Pelvic Floor Muscles. These muscles have many roles or functions, let us take a look into some of these functions.Core Muscle Diagram

The Role Of The Core Muscles

Here we go on a journey learning more about our core muscles. Our core muscles help us in so many ways and we take a lot of this help for granted. We tend to want to build those muscles on the outside that everyone else can see. Once we, discuss this it is my hope that you give your core muscles a little more thought.

  • External and Internal Obliques– These muscles aids us in our twisting or rotating motions and run in between our hips and spine.
  • Transverse Abdominis– This is mostly a support muscle as we rotate or twist. An underlying muscle of the abdominal s that is thought of as one of the most supportive spinal muscles of the body.
  • Rectus Abdominis– We are using this muscle when we bend forward or are in a curling like motion (for instance a crunch). This is the most popular core muscle because, it is the six-pack muscle people want. It runs from the ribs to the hips.
  • Multifidus– This is actually a group of muscles that helps us by providing support or stabilization to the spine as we move.
  • Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Medius, and the Gluteus Minimus– All of these muscles are located at the hip or buttock region of the body. They also provide spinal support for us as we move.
  • Pelvic Floor– You might not even know about this muscle group. Have you ever tried to stop urinating? Yeah, those muscles are in this group. They run from our pelvic bone to our tail bone and hold our internal organs for us.

Importance – Yea or Nea

The one thing that I am hoping for is that you see the importance of the core muscles in this article. I will repeat myself in saying that if a move is not going to use the arms or legs the core muscles are involved. Even though, I did not mention this fact while stating some core muscle groups. Every one of these groups are involved in a supportive role when in combination with other muscle use. An interesting side note here: I saw a link between back pain and the core muscles. Some core muscles quit contracting or giving support to the spine in certain movements. Leading one to think that something probably caused these muscles to disengage and that retraining these muscles might be in order.

Some Core Exercises

What do we always think of first, when someone mentions core exercises. Sit-ups and crunches right. Have you heard of planks and plank variations. I have chosen just a handful of exercises that can be done from the house and works the core extremely well.

  1. Plank with Alternating Arm and Leg Raise- Get into the standard push up position then raise an arm and the alternate leg. Contract the muscles enough to keep the movement to a minimum, hold and repeat.
  2. Side Plank- Lay on your side with your feet stacked upon each other. With lower arm bent raise off the floor with elbow under shoulder and other hand on hip. .Now, extend your side towards the sky and hold. Change sides and repeat.
  3. Stabilization Plank- Start in the push up position. Reaching one hand towards the sky and stack your feet again. This should leave you looking at a wall, not the floor. Switch hands and feet and repeat.
  4. Superman- Lie on belly, arms extended in front of your head and feet pointed away from you. Lift arms and feet at the same time while maintaining good body posture. You should have your muscles contracted for support, hold and repeat.
  5. Bicycle- Lay on back, place hands just under your buttocks with palms down. Raising both legs just a few inches off the ground. Bring one knee to chest area while keeping other leg raised. Important Note: Really try to suck your belly button to the floor here. Your lower back should never come off the floor.

A Foundational Muscle Group

We have covered a lot here. We started with the core muscles in general, some core muscles. Then, moved into the role and if it plays a part in our lives or not. Finally, some exercises that if done consistently, could play a very significant role to your quality of life. One thing that I need to mention is always pay attention to your body as you work out. It will tell you what it needs. I am here to help so leave any questions or comments below.
 

 

 

4 Comments

  1. totally agree on planking, it seems simple, but it’s initially very hard. I’ve seen a change in my form for the better since incorporated it into my workouts much more frequently.
    thanks for sharing.

  2. This was really insightful. I’m a P.E. teacher and high school coach, and I agree with you. So many people don’t realize just how important your core really is. Again, thanks for the info, and I hope to see more great stuff from here.

  3. Thank you for this article. As a dance teacher, I am always trying to get my students to ‘engage their core’ muscles as it is fundamental to keeping us stable and maintaining balance, especially if you’re having to balance on a pointe shoe!
    I love these planking exercises so thank you for sharing them. We do all these in class. I also like the crunch but find that it can be done incorrectly a lot of the time so I’ll look forward to hearing your views on doing that one properly. Many thanks for this great work.

    • It is my opinion that “crunches” is more of an oldie than a goodie. I definitely think there are better exercises out there like
      1. A Bicycle Crunch- not with hands behind head. Start lying on back, raise back to 45 degrees off floor and as you bicycle touch
      feet with opposing hand.
      2. Spider man- A plank while bringing knee to elbow.
      3. The Wiper or Windshield Wiper- on your back hands out 90 degrees for stabilization. Lift both legs straight up, then straight
      down to one side stopping a few inches from floor and repeat. The real work here is done with the opposing oblique. Try not to
      use your upper body at all, except for stability. Want more help just comment!!!

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