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What is Core Training?

If you’ve ever spent time in a gym or weight room, you have probably heard of core training in one way or another. It is a term that means many things to many people, and it is used by professionals and amateurs alike. Many times the word “core” is a convenient and vague way to describe a very complex area of the human body. In reality, the core encompasses the musculature surrounding the scapula, spine, ribs, and hips. Collectively, the core can function in any way imaginable. It moves in all directions and planes and provides the stability necessary for proper posture in all body positions. It has been described as a link or bridge between the large muscles of the upper body and those of the lower body.

So why do we train it?

Athletes train the core because it provides the necessary stability to perform complex and high speed movements. It also allows the athlete to be strong in any body position, and it serves to help prevent many types of back injuries. Non-athletes train it to improve posture, alleviate back pain, and achieve six-pack abs. Whatever the motivation, a strong core will benefit every individual.

How do we train it?

We have all heard of crunches, sit-ups, leg lifts, planks, bridges, and med ball twists. The truth is that these are all great exercises. There is no single best way to train the core, because it is made up of so many muscles that all perform slightly different functions.  In fact, you may be surprised to learn that the core is involved in almost every movement you perform in the gym. It stabilizes the spine and allows for the isolation of a single muscle or muscle group during training.  One of the best ways to approach core training is to employ a wide variety of exercises. Variety will contribute to better all-around core strength because it simply works the body in multiple movement patterns. It will also help make your workouts more exciting and challenging. The following is a brief list of core exercises at the beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. It is by no means an all-encompassing list, but it provides simple movements that can fit into any workout regimen.

Beginner– Crunches, Side Crunches, Leg Raises, Forward Planks, Superman

Intermediate– Medicine Ball Twists, Side Planks, Aquaman, Scissor Kicks, Toe Touches

Advanced– Hanging Leg Raises, Single Leg Planks, Back Extensions, V-Ups