Core fitness exercise has become synonymous with abdominal conditioning. In terms of core stability, the abdominal muscles do little. Without proper strength and conditioning of all core muscles, injury, aches and pains can occur more frequently. The core of the body is responsible for supporting the back, spine and shoulders. Core fitness exercises should aim to strengthen all muscles related to these areas.
Choosing Effective Core Fitness Exercise
In order to choose effective core fitness exercises, you must first learn the muscles supporting the core of the body. The core muscles begin at the top of the abdominal trunk and run down to the lower torso. These muscles include the:
- Gluteus Muscle Group - Muscles of the middle hip and buttocks area including gluteus medius, minimus, and maximus. Hamstring muscles are also included in the gluteus muscles.
- Hip Muscle Group - Muscles of the upper hip and pelvis including the hip flexors and hip adductors.
- Abdominal Muscle Group - Muscles of the front and side trunk including the external and internal obliques, traverse abdominis, and rectus abdominus.
- Spinae Muscle Group - Muscle group supporting the spine including the erector spinae and multifidus.
The Power to Work Harder in the Gym
Strength and power originate in the core of the body. When the trunk, torso and pelvis are strong and stable, power is transferred to all other muscles. Powerful contractions, such as rapid muscle movements, require a strong core. The more stable the core, the more energy transferred to the muscles leading to quicker repetitions and more effective training.
Core fitness exercises also support proper posture. Imbalances of posture can lead to improper weight lifting form, injuries, and undue pressure on the lower back. Pressure and pain of the lower back is a common symptom of weak core muscles.
The abdominal muscles are important to core stability and strength. When the abdominal muscles are weak, the lower back holds additional pressure and weight from simple daily tasks like walking. When exercising, this pressure grows exponentially leading to painful back injuries. Strengthening the abdominal muscles allows the weight of the upper body to be evenly distributed over the front and back. When weight is distributed, balance improves.
Working the Torso as a Solid Unit
The torso can be pictured as a solid unit. This unit needs to be strong and stable like the frame of a car. If the torso is weak, the muscles of the body will not perform at optimal levels. Core fitness exercises can help build stability of the core. Building strength in the core of the body does not require weights or gym machines. The most common core exercises include:
- Abdominal Bracing – Pull the belly button in toward the spine and hold. Continuing breathing while bracing.
- Plank – Start in a push-up position with the elbows and forearms on the floor. Hold the back straight and lift one leg. Lower the leg and repeat with the opposite leg.
- V-Sits – Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of the body. Lift the legs to a 45 degree angle. At the same time, reach the arms toward the feet. The body will resemble a V shape.
Other more common core exercises are push-ups, lunges and back extensions. Engage in these movements frequently to ensure a strong core.