They are at the gym three or four times a week working out on the leg machines, doing countless repetitions of arm exercises and hours of cardio. They are the runners, swimmers and multi-sport athletes working on conditioning for their specific events. They all share one thing in common. They do not spend nearly enough time strengthening their core muscles. No matter what your discipline as an athlete, or just as a health conscious individual, working your core muscles is one of the best ways to improve performance.
Reasons to Strengthen Your Core Muscles
The muscles in your body are a system and work together as such. The purpose of your trunk is to provide a stable platform for all the peripheral muscle groups.
- Strong core muscles improve posture and balance
- The exercises are easy and can be done at home.
- A strong core keeps you aligned and reduces injury.
- Core exercises don’t take up much time.
- They help tone your abs and lower back, trunk and pelvis, resulting in a stronger, tighter, sexier appearance.
- A strong core provides a base for all the muscles of the extremities.
Muscles of the Human Core
Strengthening the core of the body involves more than doing a few sit-ups or crunches. There are several muscle groups involved and they all need to be worked to result in a balanced structure. These groups include:
- abdominals: obliques,transverse abdominus, quadratus lumborum
- back muscles: trapezius, erector spinae, transversospinalis group
- pelvis muscles: gluteus group, psoas major, hip flexors
Easy Exercises That Strengthen Targeted Muscles
Below is a list of some easy exercises for strengthening your core:
- standard crunch
- knee up crunch
- hip lifts
- oblique crunches
- bicycle crunches
- side planks
- push ups
There are hundreds of more advanced core exercises using machines and training balls, but these simple ones should get you well on your way. Talk to a trainer at the gym or look them up in a book, or on the web. It may take a few minutes of your time, but the end result will be well worth it.
Whether you are an elite athlete, or just looking to strengthen yourself for the challenges of everyday life, core stability and strength is a key to better performance and better health. When you are in that pool, on that bike, running those long roads or just looking to avoid a work injury, a strong core will provide a stable platform for those arms and legs to do their job. Strengthening your arms and legs is beneficial for every athletic or work activity, but if you want to be more streamlined in the pool, better balanced on your skis or bicycle, or able to lift those crates at work without damaging your back, do some simple exercises to build up your pelvic, abdominal, and back muscles. The rest of your body will thank you for years to come.
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