"I need to work on my core"


"I need to work on my core"

How many of us have said that before, but how many of us can expand and elaborate on what we actually mean when we say that? In my experience, although it is a worthwhile statement, it is often a very misunderstood concept.

What is the "core", what does it do, and how do we work to improve it?

The most basic interpretation of the core is the rectus abdominus, or the six pack abs. This is a huge disservice, as the core extends way beyond just what you can see as a visible six pack. All of the muscles in the centre region of our body are more or less "core" muscles, especially the deeper ones that you actually cannot see.

I find it easier to define the core by its FUNCTION, rather than as a list of individual muscles. The core functions to PREVENT movement, rather than to create it. Yes it can do both, but it's PRIMARY function is the prevention of unwanted movement, or to be concise: to STABILISE. Any time parts of you isometrically contract, to lock you down and stabilise, especially whilst you are performing another function, then your core is doing its job. You can practice or train this purely as an isometric hold, or it can actually happen during a movements like maintaining a flat back during a deadlift / kettlebell swing, or a gymnast holding a dish shape whilst circling a high bar, not allowing your body to twist or contort out of position during something like a renegade row, etc. It might be easier in the beginning to perform static holds to teach positioning, before later going on to holding those positions during a complex movement.

The core is way more complex than six pack abs, and just having a visible six pack doesn't necessarily mean a strong core! Developing a strong core is the second stage in the Yoga Athlete hierarchy:

Mobility - STABILITY - Strength - Power - Endurance - Flow

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With a better understanding, with a better plan, you can experience far better results. You can overcome plateaus, and you can vastly improve your risk : reward ratio in your practice. Remember, more isn't better; only better is better. If you would like a new perspective, if you would like to experience the kind of progress I advocate, contact me for an in-depth fitness consultation.

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