When I first began my journey with Eric, my personal trainer, in August he asked me what my goals were. My number one goal? A six pack! At that time, I wanted one for the look, but now I have come to realize just how important core strength is and it goes way beyond just looking good. I have come to absolutely adore my core session after my strength training or cardio. He tries to challenge me with new core exercises constantly whether is be the time duration, amount of weight associated with the motion, or a new exercise I’ve never tried before.
I used to think that the words “core” and “abs” were interchangeable, but I have since learned otherwise. Your “abs” refer to your centralized abdominal muscles. Your “core” is so much more. Your core is basically the natural internal girdle of muscles that wraps around your entire midsection. It begins right below your chest or breast bone, extends all the way down to your pubic bone, and wraps all the way around you through your obliques. It is basically your little powerhouse!
Much like a foundation of a house, it is the support to many of your body’s basic functions. It can help with better posture, helping you to straighten out and align your spine. It also helps with overall balance throughout your body’s daily movements and provides you with the strength you need to carry out common daily tasks such as carrying groceries, picking up your kids, or balancing a laundry basket full of clothes on your hip. It helps allow for better breathing and lung capacity. Having a strong core can also greatly help reduce the risk of injury. Many injuries occur from falling or poor form; a strong core will help stabilize you in both situations.
Probably the most beneficial thing about having strong core is it leads to a healthier and stronger back. With over 80% of Americans experiencing some sort of lower back pain, this is pretty important. A strong core, which usually coincides with weight loss, can help ease this discomfort. My husband, for example, has terrible lower back pain, but he has also admitted to having a weak core. He has gone to multiple physicians, chiropractors, massage therapists, and physical therapists and their recommendation has always been the same: improve your core strength! With a strong core being able to sustain you, this allows for less amount of pressure, strain, and reliability being placed on your back.
Having a strong core helps you do so much more, so much better! When it comes to cardio, it allows for efficiency while doing things like running, swimming, or cycling. When it comes to lifting and strength training, it allows for better posture, form, and explosion of power. And if you don’t have a gym membership, don’t worry. Building a strong core doesn’t require one. There are so many core exercises you can do from the comfort of your own home. Take planks for example. All you need is a comfortable floor and you’re good to go. Since I do mine at the gym, Eric likes to stack plates on my back while I’m doing it, but simply holding a solid plank while tightening your core does the trick too. Crunches and leg lifts are a great way to build your core as well. If you have access to a stability ball, try to squeeze that in between your feet while you lift your legs over your head and all the way back down to the floor as you lay on your back. This really helps those hard-to-reach lower abdominal muscles. For your obliques, try some Russian twists or side bends. To make these more challenging do your Russian twists while holding a dumbbell, kettlebell, or medicine ball. For side bends, try doing them while holding a plate, dumbbell, or kettlebell in the hand of the side you are bending towards.
Once you have a good core session, though, don’t forget to feed those muscles afterwards with protein and muscle rebuilder. This is where the line of awesome Performance Inspired protein shakes, BCAA, and ZMA come into play. They all help to feed, replenish, revive, and rebuild those “ab”solutely necessary muscles.