How to Get a Strong Core
The term “core strength” gets tossed around a lot these days, leading many people to think they need to focus on training this specific area of the body. The truth is, the “core” makes up most of your body...pretty much everything except your extremities. Today, let’s talk about the 5 common reasons you’ve yet to find that ever-so-crucial core strength.
#1 - We Sit ALL Day
Our modern lifestyles have us sitting at the office, in the car, at home on the couch. When you sit, it’s nearly impossible to maintain great posture. Even if you do it keeps your hips, hamstrings, and low back in a shortened position. When you notice yourself slouching down, squeeze those butt cheeks and straighten up. Try to get up more often and avoid sitting so much.
#2 - Too Much Focus on the Six Pack Abs!
Hate to break it to you, but six packs are made in the kitchen. You can definitely get some good ab work in at the gym, but don’t forget about all the other muscles involved in the core. Rather than just focusing on the front and center (top abs), involve your low back, glutes, hamstrings, and do rotational exercises. This way, you grow the muscles at all ranges. Want to test your core strength? Do a 30 second hollow hold and see if you can hang.
#3 - You Haven’t Learned How to Breathe
Much of the idea of stabilizing your core revolves around knowing how to breathe or brace yourself. Look into diaphragmatic breathing. To put it simply, take a big breath and hold it as low down as you can (not up in your chest). You’ll push against abs, obliques and low back which stabilizes the spine. Maintain that level of muscle contraction as you continue to breathe.
#4 - Ditch the Lifting Belt
Ok maybe not forever, but people tend to overuse the weight belt. Most of the time they aren’t using it correctly anyways. Once you’ve learned to breathe properly, you can create your own weight belt just by activating the right muscles to protect your spine. Save the belt for the 1 rep max occasions.
#5 - Practice Makes Permanent
When you combine the strengthening of the core muscles with knowing how to breathe, apply this combo all the time. This applies to way more than just lifting weights. It’ll make you a better runner, sitter, stander, yard work do-er...you get the picture. Cherry on top? You will have a lower risk of spinal injury and will see your overall strength numbers improve.
-Taylor Race, owner and head coach at Elevate St. Pete