bill-bowerman-if-you-have-a-body-youre-an-athlete It’s almost impossible to go to a fitness center and not hear the words “core training” being talked about. When most people hear the term, they think of abdominal toning; but the core region involves much more than just the stomach muscles. What are the advantages of core conditioning and why should you make it a part of your workout?

Advantages of Core Conditioning: What are the Core Muscles?

The core muscles are more than just the abdominal muscles, although these important muscles do form a part of the core. Core muscles also consist of the muscles that make up the trunk, the hips, and the floor of the pelvis. These muscles help to stabilize the spine and pelvis and even affect the movement of the lower extremities.

What is the Importance of Training the Core?

It’s a common misconception that core training is for getting six pack abs. When core training is done correctly, the entire girdle of muscles extending from the upper back to the hips and the length of the abdominals is strengthened which helps to stabilize the spine. This can be help to alleviate back pain and reduce the risk of injury to the back and pelvis when lifting and bending over. Strengthening the core muscles not only improves the appearance of the mid-section, but also protects against injury and back strain. When these muscles are targeted for strengthening, it improves posture which can have a dramatic effect on the appearance of the mid-section. Thin people with weak core muscles often have a prominent abdomen despite having low body fat because of poor posture and weak abdominal muscles. This can be corrected by training the core regularly.

Other Advantages of Core Training

Not only do strong core muscles improve appearance and reduce the risk of orthopedic problems, it also helps to improve overall athletic performance and even makes it easier to carry out day-to-day activities.  Movements such as lifting a child or pet, reaching for something on a high shelf, scrubbing the floor, and getting into and out of your car all become easier when the core muscles are strong. Almost every athletic movement involves the core in some capacity, so training these muscles are of importance for the serious athlete. Have a strong core even helps with balance since the core is the center of gravity of the body.

How to Get the Benefits of Core Conditioning

Pilates instructor with clients

There are lots of ways to develop the core muscles. Doing focused abdominal and back exercises or a Pilates routine are two ways. Simply focusing on contracting the core during regular fitness exercises can have benefits on its own. Yoga is also another way to target the core muscles when cued correctly. It’s important to take a balanced approach to training these muscles by not overemphasizing the abdominals and neglecting the back muscles and pelvic floor. Remember, the objective is to develop a strong muscular girdle around the entire torso and pelvis.

To get started, check with your local community center if they offer Pilates, core based Yoga, or other forms of core conditioning. You can also check out a specialized Pilates studios as they have other Pilates equipment like reformer, stability chair and ladder barrel that can give you additional challenge or support. Make sure you work with certified fitness professionals that have extensive knowledge and know what they specialize in, so they can modify exercises if you have any past injuries or special conditions. Once you’ve mastered the exercises you can incorporate them into your own fitness routine and enjoy the benefits of having a strong mid-section.