Building A Strong Core

man doing situps

You Can Build a Strong Core
by Christopher Guerriero

Core strength and stability is increasingly recognized as a vital part of fitness. So...what is a strong core, and how do you go about getting it?

The past five years have seen growing interest in resistance, or weight training programs, aimed at achieving core strength and
stability. While some of us might think apples when we hear the word 'core', the word certainly doesn't refer to a throw-away aspect of fitness.

What is core strength?

The muscles of the 'core' are primarily those of the trunk and pelvis. The core muscles stabilize the spine and effectively move the body with varying loads. If the trunk muscles are weakened, then posture and movement can be affected significantly.

The core muscles are necessary for effective transfer of ENERGY from large to small muscle groups.This type of training attempts to anticipate and mimic movements that occur during your normal day, such as twisting and turning. Training for core strength and stability can lower the risk of injury and increase power application for when you need it most during the day.

Strengthening the core muscles of the trunk and pelvis provides a stable platform for the actions of the shoulder, arm and leg muscles. Pilates exercises are a popular and effective way to develop core strength and stability.

Muscles of the trunk and pelvis - Some of the most important muscles of the core are the deeper abdominal muscles that wrap
and protect the spine; the abdominal muscles that run along the front and sides of the abdomen; the erector muscles of the lower
back; and the muscles of the pelvic floor and hips. Having a so-called 'six pack' of abdominal muscles does not necessarily mean having good core strength and stability.

Some of the most important 'core' muscles actually lie underneath the six-pack and, together with the erector muscles of the spine, help maintain good posture and balance during daily activity. This means that just doing sit-ups for the abs will not usually be enough to develop core strength.

Training for core strength and stability...

The major aim of core strength training is to perform exercises that closely resemble specific movements that you do REGULARLY. Emphasis should be placed on diagonal and rotational movements, and promoting balance and strength by performing exercises standing or sitting on different (including unstable) surfaces such as balance beams, wobble boards, foam rollers, and fit balls. Training should emphasis a balance between developing agonist(prime movers) and antagonist muscles. The best core training involves movements that are performed while balancing on one leg, or shifting the body weight from one leg to another, and so exercises mimicking these actions should be incorporated into your training program. Examples might include kicking a football while on the run and pushing hard while cycling up steep hills.

Exercises to improve core strength...

Since there are several different trunk, back, and pelvic muscles that make up the 'core', it is important to perform a variety of exercises that target these muscle groups.

Core strength can be developed by performing:

  • Pilates exercises

  • Standard abdominal exercises (such as sit ups and crunches)

  • Fit ball exercises (including roll outs, walk outs, sit ups, leg lifts, and jack knifes)

  • Resistance training exercises with an emphasis on deadlift, squat and lunge exercises.

  • Medicine ball training (overhead throwing to a partner, side throw, rugby passing, lunge exercises holding the medicine ball above the head)

  • Balancing exercises on a wobble board, balance beam, or foam roller (standing on one or both feet, walking forwards and backwards, with eyes open or eyes closed)

Although not absolutely necessary, these exercises provide another level of stimulation and are encouraged whenever there is access to such specialist equipment.

As a whole, nobody should go through an entire week without doing some structured form of core training.

Copyright 2006 Christopher Guerriero is the founder of the National Metabolic & Longevity Research Center and a best-selling author, speaker, and coach to millions. He is creator of the award-winning
'Maximize Your Metabolism' system. To learn more about this
step-by-step program, and to sign up for FREE how-to articles
and FREE teleseminars, visit:

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