Beach-worthy abs are great but not the only reason to get your torso into shape. Your core is more than just your ab muscles, it is your body’s powerhouse.
A strong core controls movement throughout the rest of the body. One of the main causes of back, neck and shoulder pain, stems from having a weak core. But a weak core can also affect performance down the body, by producing instability and bad gait. Core stiffness is essential for injury preventions and performance enhancement, but to achieve this it requires dedicated training. The spine is a unique structure allowing flexibility and fluid movement but needs a guide system to stabilise it and bear loads, the core muscles. Modern living does not train the muscles and for many people results in stiffness or buckling. For some, this may result in ill-use of surrounding muscles and causing pain elsewhere. Not only is core stiffness essential to protect the spine, it is also important in performance; carrying heavy loads, running fast and changing direction. It takes dedication for a strong core to develop but you will also increase core muscle and shaping, producing a slender and curved frame.
A strong core is more than just a few sit ups, and it won’t be gained by just working out the muscles around it. The core has two layers of muscle, the deep internal muscles that maintain core stability and the outer ‘ab’ muscles maintaining core strength. By strengthening the deeper muscles first, this will improve overall fitness and increase later muscle growth, making you less prone to injury.
Core training can start basic. By drawing in the abdominal muscles, holding for five breaths and then relaxing. Repeat 10 times and perform 10 times throughout the day can be enough to strengthen the core. Women can also have the added benefits of practicing Kegel exercises to strengthen the lower core.
Protect against back pain
The human body was never designed to perform the day-to-day activities that most us find ourselves doing. For example, any of us who spent a large amount of our day sitting, are likely to not be mindful of how we are sitting. By not engaging the core through extended periods of sitting can lead to things like compressed discs in the spine or back arching. And for others who may spend more time spending, we are not always mindful to our postures, for example hunching over to look at a phone screen or using incorrect techniques when lifting heavy objects.
It is easy to work the deep core muscles in the office or when walking about. You can be mindful of the correct posture, sitting tall on your sitting bone instead of hunching, or by replacing your chair with a ball. When the core stability is improved, dedicated ab workouts and ab days at the gym will improve strength and aesthetics.
A strong, healthy body may turn heads at the beach and boost your body confidence, but you will also feel better. Core stability if the root of superficial appearing muscle. Exercises like the plank and bridge are a fantastic way to start and by working the inside out, you gradually improve your overall body health.
There is a wide variety of exercises that you can perform that will target the core muscles, thus creating variety in your workouts. My ‘Lean Abs Anywhere’ book provides plenty of ab-workout variations that you can perform when you feel comfortable. It has been found that varying workouts can increase motivation to work out and reduce the effects of boredom. Improved general health and mental health is found when individuals workout, from improved cardiovascular health to reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression. Having a strong core will enable you to perform subsequent moves easier and more controlled, therefore, less discouragement when you struggle. You will have improved strength and appearance and it may all start from the core.
A tall, upright posture exudes strength and with a strong core it will be hard to carry yourself in any other way. Give the impression you are in control of your life and you are strong.