The core is where all movement originates. It is the foundation in which your arms and legs movements come from. Just as a house the foundation is crucial to the strength of the rest of the structure. What is the core comprised of? Most will probably say that having a strong core is having a six pack. But this is just one of the core muscles. Our core is comprised by all of the muscles that move or support our spine. This is why many fall short when it comes to core training. Most focus on working their vanity muscles the Rectus Abdominis (Six pack muscles). While these might be enticing they’re not the most important core muscle to be focusing on. Overtraining these muscles can contribute to forward rounding of the spine, which most people already suffer from. Because of this it is important to know and train the whole musculature of the core. The core starts at the latissimus dorsi (upper back) and ends with the glutes (hips). Knowing this you’ll want to make sure to program exercises that focus on as many core muscles as possible, instead of focusing on your “six pack muscles”
Plank & Progressions (Marching & Crawling)
The plank is one of the most beneficial exercises that you can do. It engages all of your core muscles (including the posterior core) making it much more effective than a crunch, which only engages your abdominals. Core strength is extremely important not only for exercising, but also for everyday life. Having a strong core will help prevent injuries while also improving your balance and overall strength. We use our core every day, whether from getting out of bed, or while carrying your groceries in from the car. The main benefit of planks is that they safely strengthen your core, while teaching your body to fire all of its muscles at the same time. This is important for safely executing most exercises in the gym. It is usually easy to flex your abdominals, but most struggle with truly engaging their entire core.
Planks are the staple of all core training. We most commonly use our core to resist movement in everyday life. Such as standing on the subway or stabilizing your torso while taking a turn in your car. The plank engages all of our core muscles not just the abdomen.. Not only are you working on your core, but you’re also isometrically working out your arms, shoulders, back, and glutes at the same time. This exercise is a crucial foundation for other exercises such as pushups.
To set up a plank you may start on your forearms or palms. With a high plank you will get greater shoulder recruitment. Make sure that your elbows or hands are directly underneath your shoulders. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles. Make sure not to let your hips sag below your body, or to come up above.
This may be too challenging for some, a suitable regression is to do an elevated plank. The exercise remains the same, but instead of placing your hands on the floor we will go off of a bench or box. The higher up from the ground the easier it will be, as your core gets stronger you can reduce the height of the plank.
To add difficulty and focus more or certain parts of your core, you can get into plank variations. Here we have a marching plank(bringing knees up and out to the sides of the body) which focuses more on the Obliques. You can also try Crawling Plank (Slowly walk forearms out while keeping the body level) which places more stress on the core and shoulders. Something that is important when adding variations is to maintain proper form. Make sure that your hips remain in the proper neutral position (in line with the rest of the body). One should start by mastering the basic plank before searching for modifications.
Scott is holding demo sessions for those that want to learn more about core exercises on the following days:
Monday the 24th 5pm-5:30pm and 7:30pm-8pm
Thursday the 27th 5pm -5:30pm
To regiester email Scott at ScottM@waverleyoaks.com