In today’s post, let’s talk about Core Training.
Are crunches and endless sit-ups the first thing that comes to your mind about core training? Don’t worry, you’re not alone…It’s time to rewire the way you think about how to train your core in order to strengthen it in a more balanced and functional way.
When considering which exercises to implement into your exercise routine, it is important to consider which muscles and movement patterns each exercise is actually targeting. For example, when performing a crunch or sit-up, the muscle that we are predominantly recruiting is the rectus abdominis (the “six pack” muscle area.) There’s nothing wrong with strengthening your rectus abdominis, however, it is important to consider that there are many other muscles around the same area that make up your core. It’s time to recruit more of your core musculature, let’s dig a little deeper.
You also want to consider the movement pattern of each exercise you implement into your routine. Staying with the example of the crunch or sit-up, the movement pattern that we are strengthening with these exercises is forward flexion of the spine. There’s nothing wrong with working on your forward flexion as long as you’ve first developed proper core stability. Without proper core stability, all these exercises are doing is reducing your chances of making your back strong and stiff (a good thing) with the possibility of developing an injury later on.
When training the core, your primary focus should be on developing overall core stability. Building a strong, stable core doesn’t only benefit the midsection, it benefits the entire body. As you strengthen your entire core, your core muscles improve at their ability to stabilize the spine and as well as bring other parts of the skeletal system into proper position. This sense of core stability leads to increased functionality throughout the entire body. It not only benefits you when it comes to many different athletic movements such as your throwing mechanics and running mechanics, but it also benefits you in everyday activities such as getting dressed, carrying groceries, and even simply standing and sitting without back pain.
Some of the following sample exercises I’m listing below rather than forcing the spine to go forward, extend backwards, or even rotate when not ready to, these movements are meant to keep your back safe while building that proper core foundation. These include bird-dogs, deadbugs with no rounding, paloff presses, planks, and rollouts (when ready). If you are familiar with these exercises, you’ll notice that the one thing they all have in common is that they involve maintaining a neutral spine position… this can be challenging without the proper coaching and know how. Learning how to properly position your back and maintain a neutral spine position during specific beneficial exercises is what strengthens many of those other core muscles that aren’t being targeted and strengthened during a crunch or sit-up. Again, keep in mind that crunches and sit ups are not wrong; they just have to be introduced and/or executed in your exercise training program when and only when your back/spine feels healthy and ready to do so in a safe and challenging way!
Other benefits of building a strong and functional core include a decreased risk of spinal injuries especially those such as bulging discs, herniated discs, slipped discs and/or even fractured discs, improved balance, improved athletic performance for sports, better protection of certain inner organs and your central nervous system. These are some of the reasons why one of our primary goals for our members here at Movimento is to help them develop a functional, strong, and stable core right from the very beginning.