You work your abdominals by doing crunches and bicycles, but what about the muscles in your core? Your ab muscles are only one part of the group of muscles that wrap around your midsection and stabilize your spine and pelvis. Abdominal exercises alone won’t work these muscles effectively. To get the job done, you need to strengthen all of the muscles in your core region including your obliques, pelvic muscles, hip muscles and the muscles that support your spine. Sound like a lot of work? Here are reasons why it’s worth the effort to strengthen your core.
Strong Core Muscles Improve Sports Performance
Strong core muscles improve performance in a variety of sports. When you need to generate power, these muscles work as a unit to help you do it. Any dynamic movement you make with your upper or lower body originates from the muscles in your core. Even if you have good upper and lower body strength, you won’t be as powerful if your core muscles are weak.
Having well-trained core muscles also makes it easier to change directions quickly. This is important for many sports. Strong core muscles can even improve your running form and make you faster if you’re a runner. No matter what sport you play, strong core muscles help you perform better.
A Strong Core Reduces the Risk of Injury
A strong core gives you greater stability in your mid-section so you can change positions quickly without risking injury. It also strengthens the all-important back muscles that are frequently strained from improper bending, lifting and sitting in a chair too long. Training your core muscles is one of the best defenses against lower back pain. Having a strong core also improves your balance, which reduces your risk of falling. This becomes particularly important as you grow older.
Poor posture can ruin even the most toned physique. When you walk around with your shoulders slumped and your pelvis falling forward, it places stress on your lower back. This makes you look out of shape even if you’re a regular at the gym. Problems with posture are often due to muscle imbalances, weak back muscles relative to abdominal muscles. Focusing on working all of the muscle in the core helps to correct this imbalance and improves posture. You’ll stand taller and look and feel more confident.
It Improves Your Ability to Do Everyday Activities
Think of all the activities you do everyday that involve your core. Bending over to pick something up off the floor, moving furniture even climbing the stairs is easier when you have strong core muscles. Even if you don’t play a sport, training your core can make your daily activities easier.
A Strong Core is the Key to Flat Abs
If you’re working towards that elusive six-pack, balance is important. Too much focus on the abdominals to the exclusion of other core muscles makes it harder to get the abdominal definition you’re looking for. To avoid this problem, balance exercises that work your abdominal muscles with ones that strengthen the muscles in your back, hips and pelvis. Do a well-balanced abdominal workout that focuses on all of the muscles in abdominal region, and add more back extensions and planks to work the muscles in your back and pelvis. Instead of zeroing in on your abs, aim for balance.
The Bottom Line?
Too many people sit at a desk for eight hours a day, and this weakens abdominal, pelvis, hip and back muscles. Even if you don’t play a sport, training your core is important to compensate for the effects of too much sitting. Keep these five benefits in mind, and focus more energy on working your core.
Mayo Clinic. “Core exercises: Why you should strengthen your core muscles”