"I Want To Strengthen My Core"

"I need to strengthen my core"

How many times have you heard, or said that? Now whilst it's an admirable pursuit to want to strengthen your core, I want to encourage people to delve a little deeper, to question the why's and how's of everything.

When I chat to people in the gym, a large percentage of people say they want to: Lose weight Tone up and.... "Strengthen their core"

As I said, it's admirable, but it does come across as an afterthought, something they think they should be doing, because everybody always talks about the core, and it's importance, and how it should be stronger.

So let's talk about the core.

What does the "core" mean to you? What makes you think it needs strengthening? How are you measuring it's strength, or weakness? What do you think you need to do to achieve this core strengthening?

The questions are designed to get you to start thinking about what these things actually mean, and what they mean specifically to you.

Most people seem to define the core as just the visible 6-pack abs; for others it could mean everything from the chest down to the knees (front, back, sides and insides). So you can see how definitions of the core can vary widely.

I look at the core, and define it, from the point of view of "function" - what is its main purpose?

For me, that answer is to provide stability.

The core's primary function is to prevent movement, not to create it - to resist force, not to generate it (although it can do that too, as a secondary function). So if the core is meant to prevent or resist unwanted movement, to correctly train it, we need to stimulate the body to want to move, and then we use / train the core to prevent that from happening. The action or exercise must attempt to pull you out of position, and your core fires up to prevent that from happening - your internal muscles engage / tighten up to "lock you down in place", so that you cannot be moved (or at least not be pulled out of your desired position).

The core works to prevent unwanted movement by creating and retaining rigidity.

Forget crunches. All they do is promote a hunched posture (which chances are you already spend too much time in!). Forget Russian twists. All they do is encourage a twisting of the lumbar spine, usually under load (which isn't necessarily bad, but is likely something most people are not ready for yet - that's a topic for another day). And stop planking like a limp noodle or a wet piece of spaghetti! Planks are awesome, but most people seem to have no idea on how to position themselves correctly (so unfortunately end up doing the exact opposite to what they think they're doing).

Strength, like mobility, starts in the centre of the body with the core. If you have a genuinely strong core, you will be amazed at what you can do peripherally as well. Your core is also your best foundation for any other strength you want to build.

Do you actually want to understand exercise? Do you want to truly build a strong core that will blow others away? Get in touch - I'd love to work with people who genuinely care about obtaining worthwhile, long term results and a deeper understanding.

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