Core Muscles: The Ultimate Weapon to Better Fitness

Intro:

Anatomy is important to recognize each body parts and muscles. Exercise is what will help the muscles to function better. One of the muscles or area of the body that you need to focus more is the core muscles. The muscle is located the opposite of your lower back (erector spinae). Your core is your ultimate weapon and you’ll soon find out why.

Core muscles included:

The one thing to understand that your core is NOT your abdominals. Your core muscles include abdominals like transverse abdominals, internal and external oblique, and rectus abdominis. It also includes your lower back, hip muscles (hip abductor, hip adductor), and glutes (Gluteus maximus and gluteus medius).

Image result for core muscles anatomy
Image credited by link: https://muscleandjoint.ca/the-6-pack/core-muscles-anatomy-tag-anatomy-of-core-muscles-human-anatomy-diagram/
Image result for low back anatomy
Image credited by link: https://127.borrel-drankjes.be/human-anatomy-diagram.html

Benefits:

There is a reason why core muscles are the most important part of your body when it comes to fitness. According to the website mayoclinic.org, their article titled “Core exercises: Why you should strengthen your core muscles” the benefits for improving core muscles include better balance and stability, don’t require equipment or gym membership, tone abs, easier physical activity performance, and support fitness goals. Your core is the reason why we are able to do things like sitting, standing, bending over, picking things up, and exercise.

Image result for activities of daily living
Image credited by link: https://www.advancedrm.com/measuring-adls-to-assess-needs-and-improve-independence/

Without these core muscles working together, you have instability and imbalance of physical functional movements. Strengthening core muscles does increase spine stability and prevent back injury. Athletes need to have a core strength workout almost every day because this will improve your athletic performance and physical fitness.

group of men standing in podium holding flowers
Image by Simon Connellan from Unsplash to depict improve core strength will lead to better performance in athletic events.

Consideration:

The one consideration you should do is testing your current core strength. A good test is the plank test. All you need is a mat or floor that is a flat surface, watch or app that countdown time, and your body. Here is the protocol:

  • Hold the elbow plank position for 60 sec (10 points)
  • Lift right arm off the ground and hold for 15 sec (15 points)
  • Return right arm to the ground, lift left arm off the ground, and hold for 15 sec (20 points)
  • Return left arm to the ground, lift right leg off the ground, and hold for 15 sec (25 points)
  • Return right leg to the ground, lift left leg off the ground and hold for 15 sec (30 points)
  • Lift left leg and right arm off the ground and hold for 15 sec (40 points)
  • Return left leg and right arm to the ground, lift right leg and left arm off the ground, and hold for 15 sec (50 points)
  • Return to basic elbow plank position and hold for 30 sec (70 points)
Related image
Image credited by link: https://www.shape.com/blogs/fit-list-jay-cardiello/9-minute-power-plank-workout

Your score is based on how long you can hold the plank before losing form or need a rest. The total points are 70. Make sure you engage your core when holding a plank position. Look at proper plank form and techniques. BREATHE REGULARLY AND DO NOT HOLD YOUR BREATH.

The results interpretation is that if you can complete the test with good form, then you have good core strength. If you cannot complete the test and stop between #1-7 or almost complete 8 total steps, then that is the sign that you need to improve core strength.

This test is useful for personal trainers who have clients that wanted to improve core strength or someone wanting to have good core strength.

What you can do is plan a workout routine to improve your core strength. It is good to do core strength every day with a specific list of exercises and a specific length of time.

List of exercises:

There is a good number of exercises you can use for strengthening core muscles.

Plank, side plank, crunches, bicycle, Russian twist, Superman, glute bridges, back extension, side lying hip abductors, side lying hip adductors, clam shells, bird dog, leg raises, reverse crunches, sit-ups, dead bug, side bends with dumbbells and many others

File:Bent-knee-hip-raise-2.pngFile:Leg-raises-1.png

*These three images above credited by Everkinetic.*

Most of these exercises can be done with only your body at any time and anywhere. You can use equipment like dumbbells, stability ball, TRX, kettlebell, or medicine ball. Do some research on core exercises done with the equipment mentioned in the last sentence. Pilates is another form of exercise you can do to strengthen core muscles. Look at SeanVigueFitness channel, his pilates videos are good resources for core strength in Pilates.

Image result for sean vigue pilates
Image credited to SeanVigueFitness video Link: https://seanviguefitness.vhx.tv/packages/pilates-and-core-videos-every-single-workout-is-sean-s-vault-plus-extras/videos/pilates-ultimate

You can check ExRx.net to look at many exercises done to strengthen core muscles

https://exrx.net/Lists/ExList/WaistWt

https://exrx.net/Lists/ExList/HipsWt

Sample workout:

2-3 Set

1 min recovery each set but 30 sec each exercise

Warm-up before starting the workout routine: 5 min dynamic stretching

-Plank: Hold for 30 sec

-Glute bridges: 10-25 reps with 5 sec hold each

-Leg raises: 10-25 reps

-Superman: 10-25 reps with 5 sec hold each

-Bicycles: 10-25 reps

-Bird Dog: 10-25 reps with 5 sec hold each

-Russian twist: 10-25 reps

-Reverse crunches: 10-25 reps

-Lying back extension: 10-25 reps with 5 sec hold each

-Crunches: 10-25 reps

*Engage your core by tightening it. If you want to know how to engage your core, cough while feeling your midsection, that is engaging your core. Or brace as if you are about to get punches in the stomach.*

Conclusion:

Core muscles are essential to your everyday life. Your activities of daily living and athletic performance will improve with core strength exercises. Test your core strength to see where you stand. Improve with exercises listed in the article and use them to your cardiorespiratory fitness and resistance training routine. Test your core again with the plank test and see how much improvement you have. Focus on good techniques and form to make sure you are doing each exercise correctly. Go crunch your waist into a six-pack.

man wearing gray drawstring bottoms
Image by rawpixel from Unsplash

References/Links used in the article:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/core-exercises/art-20044751

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/abdominal-muscles

 

 

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