Top 2 Reasons Having a Strong Core is Important

Top 2 Reasons Having a Strong Core is Important

Posted on 10. Oct, 2010 by in Exercise

[Photo by surfstronger.com – Laird Hamilton, Big Wave Surfer]

The latest buzz word in fitness is core training. You probably hear these words thrown around by your personal trainer, yoga instructor or during news casts and weight loss infomercials as being an important part of our training for overall health and fitness. Before I became a fitness professionally, I didn’t really know what that meant. Okay, I thought it meant doing tons of ab exercises to get six pack abs. Wait, are you telling me I was wrong?

Well, maybe I was a little bit right about that way of thinking but really there is more to having core strength than just having six pack abs.

The Top 2 Reasons Having a Strong Core is Important

Reason #1: Transfer of Movement and Energy

The core muscles are at the center of our body. Hence the name. A lot of people tend to think that this only pertains to the the ab muscles but the core actually also includes all the muscle groups that stabilize the spine and the pelvis (hip area) like our gluteus muscles (butt muscles) and erector spinae muscles (one of the major spine muscles), to name a few. Because of the location of these muscles, we transfer energy through each muscle in the core every time we move. From simple movements like walking, running, sitting, getting up, getting down, jumping, to lifting objects such as in weight lifting, you can bet we are reliant on our core to generate energy and facilitate movement.

Having a weak core can be detrimental to our overall health and fitness but having a strong core can give you many benefits such as:

  • Greater efficiency during movements
  • Increased strength and power output during weight lifting exercises where we use our core such as squats, deadlift, chest presses, jumps, etc.
  • Improved body control, balance, and stability

The benefits of having a strong core can benefit us not just at the gym but more so in real life situations like unexpected falls or turns where balance is important. Using our core during jumping and running can also protect our back and joints by acting as shock absorbers from the impact generated from these types of activities upon hitting the ground.

back_muscles

[Back Muscles are a part of your core]

Reason #2: Stabilize Spine and Pelvis

Our core muscles help keep our spine erect and our hips in the neutral position. Our abdominal muscles especially protect our lower back by stabilizing our spine during movement. Many back problems happen, when our spine gets out of aligment because of a movement done with weak core which can also result to even more problems down the road. This is due to the fact that the spine is our central nervous system’s main pathway of communication to other parts of our body including our brain. Messing up the spine is like closing the major roadway in a big city – a lot of things will not get done and pretty soon, big problems will occur.

What You Can Do Today

The most common and beneficial core training exercises you can start doing today are plank, side plank, and hanging leg raises just to name a few. Doing push ups is another great way to strengthen abdominal muscles even though it is more thought of as a total body exercise. In all the exercises above, a lot more muscle groups are involved instead of just the abdominals. This is a good sign of an appropriate core exercise which is also the reason I didn’t include crunches in the list.

When doing any static exercise like the plank and side plank, start by holding the position for 20 seconds up to 3 times each time with a rest in between and work your way up as you get better at it. As for push ups, you can start doing a modified version on your knees if you’re a beginner and progress to doing regular and advanced push ups as you get stronger.

Doing these exercises for your core will help you get stronger in a lot of weight lifting and body weight exercises and will help you prevent any injuries you may get from every day movement or playing sports.

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  • Having a strong core is certainly important as you outlined above. The added bonus is the six pack abs. In addition to the exercises you mentioned, I think standing shoulder presses are a great way to work the core as well since you have to keep your body straight while executing an upward press.

  • Excellent topic .. I ignored my core at the beginning of my training life and I think I am paying for it now when I do heavy squats and deadlifts I get the wobbles and I think it comes from a weak core.
    I mean I didn't think developing the core was a very “sexy thing” to do so bicep curls and bench press was at the top of the list … I've come to realise this needs to be one of the first areas to get right.
    I see Anna you specialise in kettlebells where core work I imagine is critical. Thanks for the reminder hopefully others pick it up early than I did.
    Raymond

  • Raymond, it's true that a lot of people tend to ignore the core and wonder

    why they're not strong or can't break personal records. Yes, core work is

    very critical with kettlebell work but also for all exercises.

    Thanks for stopping by!

    Anna

  • Dave, I totally agree. The problem happens when people curve their back

    during shoulder presses which I see a lot of people do at the gym.

    Anna

  • Joeson

    You know, your exercise routine doesn’t need to be ‘traditional’ or boring. The old idea of jogging and weight training, while effective, isn’t your only option. The most important thing you have to keep in mind when choosing a weight loss exercise program is to pick something that you will enjoy, if you enjoy it you’re more likely to stick with it, and that’s where dance exercise videos come in.

    These really aren’t all that new, the general concept has been around for two decades or so. But as with most things, these videos have taken things up a notch. You can now literally learn the newest, and sometimes naughtiest, dance moves and get a great workout at the same time.

    Todays dance videos offer more variety than ever before. You can choose Latin dances with the accompanying throbbing Latin music, hip hop moves and music, classical ballet moves and music, as well as some more ‘exotic’ types of dance moves.

  • Joeson, core training doesn't need to be boring either. But, even with dancing, core becomes even more important because dancers make many twists, turns, and unconventional movements that require coordination and strength.

    Anna

  • Back when I was powerlifting, I was inadvertently training my core from the heavy squats and deadlifts. Once I started training differently, I noticed that I wasn't as stabile in my lower back or abs after a while. Like you suggest, I started to do planks and side planks and have gotten stronger and feel a lot better. I can remember watching the baseball player Ichiro Suzuki swing the bat one day. He is a little guy in comparison to other players, but his core is so strong that it allows him to generate amazing bat speed and strength. This is just another example of how a strong core can help you not only in general fitness but also in specific sports.

  • I love that example, Kelly! It's amazing how much strength a strong core can

    generate.

    Anna

  • It is not possible for me to agree more strongly with this article. For me, core training is so important, it occupies just under half of my total resistance workout time during the week.

    -Drew

  • Hi

    I am a big fan of core training and try to work the core with every exercise either directly or as a stabalizing muscle. I have suffered with back pain and muscle imbalances so know how important a strong core and good posture is especially as we get older. For me the plank is a must and should be part of everybody's weekly exercise regimen. Great post

    Cheers

    H

  • I'm the same way, Drew. I have to have core training in my workouts and in

    my client's workouts.

    Anna

  • Howard, I totally agree. Having core strength especially helps people with

    back problems.

    Anna

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