lot of people think "core muscles" refers just to their
front outer abdominal muscles, the ones that give you your six pack.
But the "core" includes all the muscles of the trunk both
front and back, inner and outer, that help with stabilizing and
moving the spine and pelvis.
Having strong core muscles (also called trunk muscles or the "inner
unit") that work together properly is important for all movement,
from sports and dynamic movement to the basic functions of daily
life. A strong core is a prerequisite for the prevention of injury,
enhanced sports performance, improved balance, and proper training
and muscular development.
And of course a strong, well trained core will also help your stomach
look flater and toned! A six pack is very aesthetically pleasing,
so read on to find out more about core muscle training and exercises!
Core muscles include any muscle that has a functional
role to play with one of the five major postures: standing, sitting,
lying on the back, lying on the stomach, or on hands & knees.
This means that in addition to abdominal muscles, the greater core
area is made up of all the muscles of the lower back and shoulder
girdle, the internal and external obliques, pelvic muscles, transverse
abdominus (TVA), gluteal muscles, and even hamstrings.
- Rectus abdominis muscle: commonly
known as abs or six pack this is a paired muscle running vertically
on each side of the core muscle area
- Transversus abdominis: so called
for the direction of its fibers, is the innermost of the flat
muscles of the abdomen, being placed immediately beneath the internal
- Internal oblique: is the intermediate
muscle of the abdomen, lying just underneath the external oblique
and just above the transverse abdominal muscle
- External oblique: is the largest
and outermost of the three flat muscles of the front core muscle
Therefore to maximize your core strength working just one or two
isolated groups of muscles isn't enough. You need to focus on integrated
training exercises that work several muscle groups together such
as compound resistance exercises and challenging core & stability
work. Swiss ball exercises are especially good for working the core
because the unbalanced platform the inflated ball creates means
more core muscles are recruited.
We now know where the core muscles are but why do we
want to work them?!
• While no one is ever completely safe from injury,
strong core muscles go a long way toward injury prevention in both sports
and routine activities like carrying groceries or picking up a child.
• Strong core muscles help your extremities to work well in conjunction
with the rest of your body. So when you're teeing off or serving, muscles
throughout your body contribute to the effort and cushion the strain on
• Back injuries often result from weak core muscles, so by strengthening
the core your spine will be more stable and you'll have less risk of herniation
or a bulging disc. Our lower back muscles are often weak and are the first
thing to go when we bend forward or twist. A strong core and core muscles
can help reduce and prevent lower back pain.
There are a number of different ways to strengthen
your core muscles with exercises, and it depends on your starting
level and your aims for core development. It is best to talk to
a qualified personal trainer to see what sort of exercises are best
for you, and to make sure you're doing them correctly.
In genral, you should aim to work on strengthening your core muscles
three times per week for at least ten minutes per session if you
want to notice a real difference. Focus on the quality of the core
exercises rather than the quantity of repetition, and keep the speed
slow and controlled. If you can do more than 25 reps of a core muscle
exercise it's either too easy, your technique is not correct, or
you are going too fast!
Exercises for the core include prone holds, side
holds, leg extensions, crunches, sit ups, oblique sit ups, oblique
twists, back extensions, alternating arm and leg raises, supermans,
plus a host of swiss ball exercises such as crunches, prone holds,
russian twists, jacknives, hip bridges, hamstring curls and more.
Don't forget that it's not just core specific exercises that strengthen
your core muscles. You fitness training program should include compound
resistance exercises such as squats, bench press, lat pull downs,
and shoulder press to work the core muscles in a more dynamic method.
You might like to read this related article on core
muscle training and using swiss balls.
To find out more about core muscles, core muscle
exercises, or core muscle training please contact