A Stronger Core for Increased Strength
A strong core has many benefits including balance, functional movement, strength and power. Functional core training can greatly improve your weightlifting by creating a solid and powerful ‘frame’ which in return boosts your lifting power. Core training is not the same as ab training as the core is much more than just the abdominal muscles. Think of your core as the trunk of your body which includes:
The Gluteus Muscles
The middle hip and buttocks area including gluteus medius, minimus, and maximus. This also includes the Hamstring muscles.
Hip Muscle Group
Upper hip and pelvis muscles including the flexors and adductors.
External and internal obliques, traverse abdominis, and rectus abdominus.
Spinae Muscle Group
The muscle group supporting the spine including the erector spinae and multifidus.
The benefits of Core Training
More Strength & Power
A strong core leads to improved lifting and strength as when your trunk, spine and torso are strong and stable this leads to increased power in all other muscle groups and leads to more effective training.
Weak abdominal muscles put more pressure on the lower back causing lower back pain. Simple tasks like walking can cause issues while weightlifting greatly increases the pressure and can cause painful injury. Strengthening the abdominal muscles allows the weight of the upper body to be evenly distributed over the front and back improving balance and lowering risk of back pain and injury.
A weak core can lead to posture imbalances and when weightlifting cause improper form, back pain and injury. Better posture develops when strengthening your core by creating a stronger lumbar curve and aligning your spine.
Functional Core Training Exercises
While there is a large variety of ways to train the core, here are some basic core exercises you can do anywhere.
Get the most out of your basic plank by making sure you engage every muscle in your body. Start by laying on the floor, face down on forearms. Curl toes under, flex your calves followed by your quads as you start to lift your body off the floor. Engage your glutes, tighten your abs and hold. Your body should be in perfect alignment creating a straight line from head to toe. Hold for as long as you can up to 2 min.
Plank with Leg Raise
Following the same directions as for your forearm plank you will now add in alternating leg raises to engage the glutes even further. Keeping your foot flexed, lift your leg straight up, holding for a count of 1 as you squeeze the glute. Lower and repeat on opposite leg for a count of 20.
This move is great for engaging the obliques. Again, starting in the forearm plank position slowly drawing one knee towards the outside shoulder. Return to beginning position and repeat on other side. Alternate for a count of 20.
Side Plank with Leg Raise
An excellent move to work the shoulders, outer thighs, gluteus medius and obliques. Start by laying on your side, shoulder lined up above your elbow, creating a straight line from head to toe. Your top foot should be resting on the bottom foot. Slowly lift yourself up into a side plank then continue to lift your leg up. Hold for a count of 1530 seconds. Repeat on other side.
Target the lower back, glutes and hamstrings with this simple yet effective exercise also known as the bridge. Start by laying on your back, knees bent, toes up so that you drive up from the heels and hands at your sides, palms down. Drive your hips up and pause for a count of 1 as you squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement. Lower and repeat for a count of 20. *Kick this move up a notch and perform on one foot at a time.