- I have been a teacher of fitness and health for thirty years. In 1989 I was certified for personal training with the National Acadamy of Sports Medicine. I had a gym in Santa Barbara for eight years. Co-owned and created a spinning bike company which manufactured bikes for five years. Also I have worked with nutrition companies for twenty years. Along with many wonderful non famous people I have trained many celebrities, and members of the Royal Family. My own athletic past consists of long distance running, long distance cycling, cross country skiing, down hill skiing, rollerblading, hiking, sand running, track work, and weight training. I have authored two fitness columns in local papers, and have been writing this blog since January 2010.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
The Importance of Core Strength
In the past fifteen years, core training has become a priority in the fitness world. It is definitely one of the most important things you can do for your body. Having core strength will help you with just about everything that you physically do.
What are your core muscles? Well they are all of the muscles that are in your body, minus your legs and arms. They include all abdominal muscles, pelvic area, and back muscles. These core muscles, particularly the deeper ones close to your spine, are vital for a strong healthy body.
Many of us have done crunches as a way to strengthen our stomach, but that exercise is only hitting the superficial part of your abdominal region, and does not go deep enough to strengthen the transverse abdominal, obliques, or the erector spinae. Those are the muscles that help to make up your core.
Core training can provide so many benefits for your body. It will improve your balance, posture, athletic performance, stability, reduces risk of injury, protects your back, and improves your body shape.
There are a number of ways to train your core for strength. One of those practices is Pilates. (see blog on Pilates) Pilates is all about strengthening the core. You can do some of the Pilates exercises right in your home. You do not need the equipment used in Pilates gyms to do the mat Pilates exercises.
Working with an exercise ball is also a great way to strengthen your core. Doing the balancing exercises is great for core strength. (see blog on exercise ball) Anytime you are balancing on the ball, you are using your core muscles to do it.
Abdominal exercises like the bicycle crunch, ball crunches, scissor abs, ball leg lifts, hanging leg raises, V-sits, and side crunches are all effective in creating core strength. (see blog on abdominal exercises)
One of my favorite ways to strengthen my core, and probably one of the most effective, is to do the plank exercise. You can do a forward plank and side planks to work your core to its best. If you are not strong enough to perform these challenging exercises, you can do a modified plank until you get strong enough to do the tougher one.
Plank exercises do not take much time. If you do a forward plank for one minute, you will be doing well. You can add time to it as you develop more strength. Do it until it feels like you want to quit, then do it a little longer. I always tell my students, the weakest part of your body when you are doing the plank is not your core, but your mind. Your mind wants you to get back to being comfortable, and the plank is anything but that.
So when you are planning your fitness routine, do not leave out your core exercises. They are the most important exercises to do. Core exercises will also sculpt your body to a beautiful shape. What's not to love about that?