Personal Trainer Tips

More than just Abs- Defining your Core and What it Does

The traditional sit up is no longer in style. Why? Because a more dynamic understanding of the complex muscle structure we call our “core” has evolved. Your core is more than just your abdominal muscles. While the exact definition is still debated your core can be loosely defined including all muscles groups besides the arms and legs, sometimes more specifically just including abdominal, back, and pelvic muscles. Your core extends 360 degrees around your body, which means your core is active in almost every movement of the human body.

The two main jobs of your core are posture/stabilization, and energy generation/transfer. Your core sets the foundation for all major compound movements in the body. This is important for two main reasons, stabilization is key for movement control and injury prevention. Secondly, as coach Aaron says, “the power comes from within,” what he means is that your power comes from your core. A strong base is crucial for form and function in exercise and daily life.

In order to create this strong foundation, you need to train 360 degrees around your trunk. Dynamic total body and compound movements better activate your entire core than a traditional sit up. Change up your idea of core exercise and help yourself become better, stronger, and more well-rounded athlete!

Core Strength Assessment

You can evaluate your core strength from home with two simple assessments: plank to evaluate static strength, and bird-dog to evaluate dynamic stability. To perform a plank set up with your forearms on the ground, elbows lined up underneath of your shoulders and toes driving into the floor; maintain a flat back and level hips. Your goal is to reach a 1 minute hold. Remember this assessment is used as an indication of core strength, but also as a great way to gauge progress as you build up towards a 1 minute hold.

To perform a bird-dog exercise start on hand and knees, holding a neutral spine. Simultaneously reach out one arm and the opposite leg to full extension, and then bring opposite elbow and knee together towards your belly button. Perform 5 repetitions on each side focus on maintaining a neutral spine, and avoid shifting your weight away from center. This exercise is great to generate total body engagement and stabilization, work towards 3 sets of 10 repetitions.