We have all seen the videos, and we have all tried them. Sit ups. Once a huge fitness craze, now not necessary. Even crunches can be very controversial in the fitness community. The idea with both is to work your abdominal muscles. The catch? You only work one muscle group within the “core”. Your hip flexors might get sore doing sit ups as well, leading to back and hip pain. In life or sport, you will rarely have to perform a crunch or sit up. So why train them?
The core is made up of 5 regions. The abdominals in the front, the pelvic floor at the bottom, the obliques at the sides, the back muscles, and the diaphragm at the top. If one region is stronger or weaker, an imbalance is created. As with any imbalance we set the stage for injury and dysfunction.
Why is the core still a buzz word in the fitness world after so long? Because, it is often considered the pillar for movement. If your core is solid, you will run faster, jump higher, lift heavier, and have less injury anywhere in the body. You are creating a foundation.
In the video I demonstrate pelvic floor exercises. Most women are familiar with this work if they have had a baby or any prolapsed organs. But men need to do this as well. These exercises are so subtle, you have to really focus on the feeling. And of course, these are just basic exercises, if there is a real pelvic floor problem, you should seek out a professional in person.
I love to incorporate the core into as many exercises as I can. You don’t have to wait until the end of your workout to start your core work. Standing on one foot, using only one arm, using a stability ball or BOSU trainer all help you activate these muscles. The most important aspect of lifting weights? Keep your trunk still and be in good posture! Squatting, push ups, and so many other exercises require that your trunk stay solid. Use mirrors to make sure you are not leaning to one side, or slouching. This activates your core! The more body parts working at the same time, the more functional, and the more you will get your core engaged.
Breathing is also a core related necessity. Honestly. Learning how to breathe deeply, using your belly, can really impact your life in a big way. Diaphragmatic (belly) breathing means that when you take a really deep breath in, allow your stomach to push out, your back to press back and not let your shoulders lift up. If you could do this most of your day, you could say you were working out all day! Here is a challenge for you: Can you do a squat or push up while doing diaphragmatic breathing and holding your pelvic floor? Without wobbling in your trunk? If yes, then great! You are achieving a strong and stable core.
Try some of these exercises at home or in the gym. Remember to breathe and listen to your body. Be intentional in the exercises, don’t just go through the motions. Your body deserves more than that!