By Jamie Wykes Hobday |
Core stability can be defined as the capacity of the muscles of the torso to assist in the maintenance of posture, balance and more during movement.
When thinking of core stability, it is often interpreted as a nice pair of shiny abs or six pack, however, the primary role of the core is to stabilise the spine – therefore highlighting the importance of training for not only aesthetics, but for correct posture and balance!
Good posture = stable spine!
The core consists of a group of muscles;
1) Transverse Abdominal
2) Pelvic Floor
3) Internal Oblique’s
Benefits of Training Core
So, it is all very well me sitting here giving you a ‘PE Lesson’ on the core but what you must all be thinking is; ‘Why should we train it? What is it good for?’
Personally, I surround this question with 3 main benefits.
Firstly, by training our core stabilizing muscles to work correctly, we can develop better pelvic and lumbar vertebral stability (Lower back and hip stabilization.) Furthermore, with sufficient core stability training, there is a reduced of likelihood of potential injury.
Finally, and perhaps one for all the ‘bros’ and ‘big lads’ out there, working on our core strength will increase our potential strength for the main compound lifts. This is due to improved motor units, muscle fibres contracting more efficiently.Whilst there are over 20 different useful core stabilizing exercises, my key recommended exercises for anyone of any ability are; (* = Progressions)
|Basic Core activation||Seated/standing/lying Down.|
|Bridges with Leg Extension||Using TRX with Leg Raise|
|Superman’s||(Lie on stomach, raise arms & legs)|
|Core Crunch with hands over head||On Swiss Ball.|
|Seated Leg Raise||On Swiss Ball.|
#1 Core activation *Seated,Standing or Lying Down.
Whilst lying on your back with your head flat on the floor, intrinsically focus on the core muscles you are about to activate.
Slowly breathe out, flatten your slightly curved back down to the ground and engage your abdominal muscles simultaneously.
Once your back is completely flat on the ground and all core muscles are engaged, pause for a second and hold.
Inhale your breath and return to the starting position where all core muscles are relaxed.
Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent, feet together and hands facing downwards by your side.
Whilst exhaling your breath, use your heels to push your hips off the floor and upwards as high as possible, whilst doing this try and prevent your back from bending at all. Remember, your core is not just your abdominals! Its your glutes and back also!
Once you reach the point where your hips are as high as possible, squeeze your glutes and hold for a pause second.
Whilst breathing in, lower your back and glutes back to the ground where you will return to your starting position.
Lie straight on the floor with your face facing downwards on the exercise matt.
Exhale your breath and lift your arms, chest and legs off the floor simultaneously and try to pause at the top of this movement for 2-3 seconds.
Whilst inhaling your breath, slowly lower your arms, chest and legs to the floor without losing focus.
#4 Core Crunches/Push Through Crunch
Lie on the floor on your back with your knees bent and arms above your head (hands crossed over each other – or try abdominal push-through crunches with straight arms).
Whilst allowing your shoulders to come off the ground, try to curl your torso upwards, contracting your abdominals together.
During this part of the movement, you should be exhaling your breath and focusing on all of the tension being on your abdominals, not your hip flexors!
Briefly pause at the top of the moment for a second or two before lowering yourself back to the starting position again whilst inhaling your breath.
#5 Seated Leg Raises on Swissball
Sit on a swissball with your shoulders completely relaxed and lowered.
Whilst exhaling your breath, try to engage your glutes, lower back and abdominals before slowly lifting and extending one leg at a time with minimal movement from your body (Try and stay as still as possible)
Once the leg is up and fully extended, inhale your breath and bring it back in, returning it back to the starting position.
When this has been completed, move onto the next leg and repeat for the designated number of repetitions.
Take Home Message
Abdominal muscles can be improved with performing exercises such as planks – but they’re not the only muscles to think about!
Try these exercises to begin strengthening your core to improve your posture and balance!