Many of our clients come into the gym with very little knowledge about core strength. While these clients know that a strong core is essential to a strong body, they don’t really know what the core is or how to develop muscle there. Plunkett Fitness is here to explain what the core is and how you can make it stronger.
What is Your Core?
The first thing to discuss is what we mean when we say core. Many people incorrectly assume that the “core” refers to the abdominal muscles (rectus abdominis). While those muscles are included in the core, there are so many more muscles involved in this critical muscle group. The muscles in your core include:
- Rectus Abdominis: These are the muscles that people refer to as “abs.” They help you bend forward at the waist.
- Erector Spinae: Also called back extensors, these muscles run lengthwise along the spine. This group of muscles helps you bend backward at the waist.
- Internal and External Obliques: These two layers of muscles wrap around the waist. The muscle fibers in the obliques run diagonally to help aid in twisting motions.
- Transverse Abdominis: This muscle helps you suck in your stomach and stabilize the spine.
- Multifidi: A group of muscles that connect the spine bones to one another.
- Quadratus Lumborum: This muscle connects the pelvis to the spine from deep inside the abdomen.
Certain trainers will also call hip and upper back muscles part of the core. While these aren’t primary core muscles, hip and upper back muscles are still important and may be considered secondary core muscles.
How to Strengthen Your Core
Once you see all of the muscles that are involved in the core muscle group, it is easy to see why many people struggle to strengthen that part of the body. There are so many muscles that you have to work for a well-rounded, strong core. Additionally, there are a lot of different moves that can strengthen the core muscles. Here are a few styles of moves that really help strengthen the muscles in your core:
- Any move that requires holding your core muscles steady such as planks and push-ups.
- Any move that uses only one arm or leg like dead bugs and bird dogs.
- Any move that requires the use of a weight on only one side of the body like single-side dumbbell rows and presses.
There are so many different options for each of these categories, so if you don’t like one particular move, you can just try a different one. As long as you are working in different types of moves, you will see benefits throughout your core.
Functional movements tend to activate the core, but if you like isolation exercises, be sure to work in a few different core exercises that will work different parts of this muscle group. Be sure to include more than just crunches and sit-ups if you truly want to see a stronger core.
If you are looking for a way to increase your overall strength, get involved in personal or group training classes with Plunkett Fitness. Our expert trainers can help you come with a fitness plan that will help you reach your strength goals. Additionally, our trainers are nutrition experts, so if you are looking to lose weight or just eat healthier, we can help. Give us a call today at 913-390-3360 to get started.