How to Work your Core:
The core has become a huge buzz word over the last ten years. Before, it was just the stomach or abs. Work your abs, everyone would say. Do lots of sit ups and get a six pack. It is actually shocking what a bad statement that is in every possible way. Not only do sit ups not get you a six pack (that requires a good diet), they re-enforce bad habits that lead to low back pain. So, what should you do?
Well, to work the core properly, you want to be as stable as possible. Of course, this is only if you are working the core in isolation. And usually, I’m not a huge fan of that. But sometimes, like when you have an injury or low back pain, it is important to work the core in isolation.
Why do I say that? Well, you shouldn’t train or exercise in any way that does not reflect how you move in real life. I mean, if it doesn’t translate to the real world, then what good is it? And it’s hard to find a situation in real life where you lay down and work the core in isolation.
In reality, your core is almost always being used. After all, that’s why it’s called your core. It moves, stretches and works in almost every position. So, you want to find good, dynamics movements and exercises that work the core along with other areas of the body too.
For example, a good squat or lunge is great for working the core. I mean, if you dead-lift at all, you will feel a real burn in your core. But, whether you run, walk, lift or play sports, you are working your core.
But, as I said, sometimes, it’s good to get the core stronger, so working it in isolation for a little while is okay. In this case, just remember you really don’t want to moving your core too much in the beginning. It should be stable and challenged to work for longer and longer periods of time. That’s why so many trainers love the plank position.
It’s much better than the standard sit ups, which put your shoulders and chest in a shortened position and stretch our your upper back too far. But, don’t fall too far in love with the plank. It’s good to do for a few weeks, but then you should be progressing beyond it.
I see many people doing the plank for years and years, but that’s a waste. You should start there and then get to more fun and challenging exercises for the core. Oh, by the way, the side plank is great here too. That’s where you rest on your elbow and bring your side off the ground (only your feet and elbow touch the ground).
Okay, so what’s next? Well, the bridge exercise is great here too… You can definitely progress this exercise a lot as well and it’s important to make sure you are using great form to really get the benefit in your glutes. (look at the image on the right) But, again, this isn’t too challenging after a little while.
So, what’s next? Well, that’s when you start getting into push ups (anyone can do them – start by just doing them on the wall or a table). You can also be doing body weight squats. Eventually, you can move into mountain climbers, etc… The main point is to be working major muscle groups along with the core, in harmony. That way, you keep strengthening the core, but in a real world way. Check out the S.M.S. Low Back Program to really progress your core from a beginner to advanced safely and properly and you will feel awesome results.