Core strength training has many benefits. It can lead to improved body control and balance, greater efficiency of movement and reduced risk of injury. Core strength training can even reduce lower back pain. Core strength straining helps strengthen and balance your abdominal muscles, which can protect your spine during workouts and increase your overall strength.
The Core Muscles
There's no general consensus about which specific muscles make up the "core muscles." But, for all practical purposes, the core muscles run the length of the torso and spine; they stabilize the pelvis, spine and shoulders. The core muscles maintain a solid foundation and transfer energy out to the limbs.
Some of the most common core muscles are:
- Rectus Abdominus, located in the front of the abdomen and often referred to as a "six pack."
- Erector Spinae, the three muscles that run along your spine to your lower back.
- Multifidus, which is located under the Erector Spinae and helps extend and rotate the spine.
- External and Internal Obliques, which are layered on top of one another at the side and front of the abdomen.
Benefits of Core Strength Training
Your core muscles stablize your entire spine and help transfer movements from the arms and legs. Strengthening the core muscles gives your limbs more power. It also corrects the postural imbalances that can lead to injury.
Strong core muscles not only make you more powerful, but they can reduce back pain as well. Strong core muscles help correct your posture, reduce strain on your spine and prevent lower back pain.
When performing core strength exercises, be sure to brace your abdomen correctly. Do this by attempting to pull your navel in towards your spine. Don't hold your breath while bracing; you should be able to breathe evenly and with control.
Core Strength Training Exercises
Medicine balls, stability balls and balance boards are all useful pieces of equipment for core strength training. But, you don't need any equipment to strengthen your core muscles. Yoga, Pilates and exercises, such as swimming, that strengthen your back are all great core exercises.
Here are some other useful core strength training exercises:
- Prone Bridge: In a face-down position, balance on the tips of your toes and your elbows while maintaining a straight line from your heels to your head. This activates anterior and posterior muscle groups in your trunk and pelvis.
- Lateral Bridge: Start on your side and press up with your arm. Maintain a bridge, keeping a straight line from your head to your foot. Resting on your elbow increases the difficulty. This execise strengthens your obliques.
- Supine Bridge: Lie on your back, then raise your hips so that only your feet, head and shoulders touch the floor. This exercise activates your gluteal muscles.
- Pelvic Thrusts: Lie on your back with your legs held in the air at a 90 degree angle to your hips. Slowly lift your hips off the floor and toward the ceiling. Lower your hips to the floor and repeat.
Push ups and crunches are also good ways to build core strength.