10 benefits of a strong core!
We talk a lot about six pack abs and wash board stomachs, but what about our core muscles, are they as strong as they should be?
The abdominal muscles (abs for short), are just one part of the muscle group which wrap around your midsection, in order to stabilise your pelvis and spinal cord.
Isolating these muscles with certain exercises is great for building muscle definition (if your body fat percentage is low enough of course) but they're not enough to strengthen your core completely. There are many muscles we have to take into consideration here, including your obliques, pelvic & hip muscles, and the supportive tissue around the spine.
This may seem like hard work but here's why we should target the whole area and not just your abs.
The benefits out way the effort!
Increase Sports Performance
Strengthening our core muscles can provide increased performance in a wide range of sports, not just help with improving exercise output. Many sports show the need to produce explosive power and a strong core can definitely help towards improving this. Our core muscles work as a unit and allow our whole body to get involved to generate increased power movements. Every movement our body makes, begins from the core muscles. You may think you have a strong muscular body but without a strong core, you will not be able to work your muscles to their full capacity. Keeping your core in-tune can also allow your body to change direction quickly which is crucial in some sports. No matter the sport, a strong core will unleash a wealth of benefits towards maximising your results.
Decrease the risk of Injury
A strong core creates an increase in stabilisation throughout your midsection, allowing you to change direction at speed, whilst minimising the risk of injury. Not only does it provide stability, but a strong core gives strength to your back muscles, which are widely used during bending, lifting and long periods of sitting. It also improves your overall balance which can increase performance but also minimise trips and falls, especially as you grow older.
Bad posture can have detrimental effects, not only towards injury but your body's appearance too. Walking with your shoulders slumped forward and pelvis tilted can place a lot of stress on the lower back, which can change your body's shape for the long term. Posture issues are commonly unveiled through muscle imbalances, which often point towards weaker back muscles linked to poorly developed abdominal muscles, but by adapting your workouts to use the whole core, you can help correct most imbalances and eventually improve posture over time. Not only will you stand taller, but a better posture has been linked to increased confidence.
Make life's tasks easier
There are various daily activities which involve your core and will benefit from strengthening. Climbing the stairs, bending over to pick up a pen or pushing a shopping trolley, would all become easier from increased core strength. This may seem unlikely, but without core muscles, you would find it hard to complete the simplest of tasks and the stronger the core, the more energy efficient you will become.
Find your six pack
Six pack abs might seem like a dream for some but without core muscles, it may stay a dream. There seems to be a lot of enthesis put onto training abs rather than the whole core, which makes it difficult to unearth the definition you are looking for. The best way to keep the balance, is to train your abs alongside your stabiliser muscles in your back, hips and pelvis. Planks and back extensions are good examples of beneficial core strengthen exercises. So, instead if focusing on just the front of your body, look to balance it with adjoining muscles to help with overall core strength.
Stabilise your body
You might've heard the saying "engage your core", but without strength in this area, it is difficult to control it. So, by building strong muscles, your connection to them will be increased, allowing you to use them to their full potential, increasing your training output.
Improve exercise form
When the body gets tired, one of the first things affected will be your exercise form. This also goes for running and other sports, where your body needs to maintain good posture to maximise results. A strong core can help your body work more efficiently and reduce the risk of injuries by supporting weaker muscle groups, allowing you to maintain proper form for longer.
Reduce back issues
Back pain along with knee issues are the most common injuries you will find in the gym and for some, this can be debilitating, but by increasing your core strength, the back will endure less stress and stay pain free for longer.
Prevent muscle imbalances
As with a lot of benefits provided by a strong core, stabilisation will help give balance to everything you do and give you the ability to maintain proper form and improve posture, which can keep our muscles balanced. This then gives us a great base to build from to increase our training potential.
It benefits everyone
Jobs involving extended periods of sitting have major implications, including muscle weaknesses involving our back, abs, pelvis and hips. Increasing core strength should not be limited to sport, it needs to be involved in everyday life to compensate for the lack of basic exercise and increased periods of sitting.
Keep these benefits in mind and work your whole core. Your body will thank you!