Fitness

What Does it Mean to Work your Core?

Blog By: Kavitha Iyer.

You might think: Core generally refers to your abdominal muscles.

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A common misconception is that exercising your core simply means working your abdominal muscles. Core exercises also strengthen your hips, back and all muscles in the midsection of the body. The core is your center of gravity and where all body movements begin. A strong core is important for posture and will also help you properly perform all functional activities in your daily life. Having a strong core has also been shown to help alleviate lower back pain.

You should know:

This term also includes the muscles that run up the back and stretch down to the butt and the front and inner thighs. This group of muscles is where much of the bodys strength comes from; you use it to kick a ball, lift a heavy box, and even stand up straight.

You can work it:

Pilates or yoga can strengthen the core, and many gyms are starting to offer core-based workouts. On your own, try Bicycle Crunches: Lie on your back, put both hands behind your head, and then draw your right elbow and left knee together, extending the right leg; switch and draw the left elbow and right knee together.

New to Core Exercise?

If you are new to core exercise, you should start with Core Stabilization exercises. Example Core Stabilization exercises include: Marching, Floor Bridge, Floor Prone Cobra and Prone Iso-Ab (Plank Pose). You can work up to performing 12-20 repetitions of each exercise (1-4 sets). You should perform Stabilization exercises for at least four weeks before moving on to more advanced core exercises.

Examples of more advanced core exercises include: Ball Crunch, Back Extensions, Cable Rotations and Reverse Crunches. You can perform 8-12 repetitions of each exercise (2-4 sets).  Finally, as you get stronger you can then progress to more explosive core movements (also known as Power Core Exercises). You will use a medicine ball to perform these exercises. Examples include the Rotation Chest Pass, Woodchop Throw and Front Medicine Ball Oblique Throw. Perform 8-12 repetitions (2-3 sets).

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