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Core Strength, It's At The Heart Of Everything You Do

Jun 2, 2008
When I was younger and unable to afford luxuries like a personal trainer, I'd often pick up these little buzzwords like "feel the burn", or maybe something like "no pain, no gain". Now one of these buzzwords was "core strength". For the longest time I had no idea what this meant. I walked around under the impression that good core strength meant having strong abs.

Consequently, whenever I went to the gym I spent a good deal of time doing things like crunches, sit-ups, and every other flavor of the month exercise that guaranteed me "killer abs" or "the perfect six-pack". Turns out, that what I was doing was not only wrong, but in the long term, detrimental to my overall conditioning.

One day, I was unloading groceries from the back of my car and when I tried to reach for a bag of groceries that was deep in the trunk, I felt a sharp stabbing pain in my back. Now I hadn't even lifted the groceries I was just reaching for them when this happened-so it had nothing at all to do the amount of weight in the grocery bag. Even though my abs (what I incorrectly perceived as my core strength) were in good shape. I had done relatively less work on other muscles, and very little work on my balance.

So what is core strength?

Within the fitness community there is some variance as to what exactly constitutes your core strength. In general, your core strength is represented by a group of muscles that extend from your neck to the bottom of your mid-thigh. And in many cases, they are hidden by other muscles.

For instance the transverse abdominis, a muscle that wraps around your spine and provide stability, is located beneath your external obliques, internal obliques which in turn are underneath your rectus abdominis muscles. These muscles are all located around your waist. In addition there is a group of muscles that are located around your spine that need to be developed in conjunction with your abdominal muscles for good core strength. Similarly your muscles that compose your hip flexors (muscles around your hips); as well as the well-known glutes which need to be worked in order to obtain good core strength.

These muscles work in conjunction to protect both your back and some vital organs. They allow you to stand up straight and walk with confidence. And power both your race to catch your bus in the morning and your game of catch with your son or daughter.

A friend of mine told me about her son's success in track and field. It turns out that he had won the shot put event for his age group. This is a 13-year-old boy who many of his friends refer to as a "toothpick". And here he was competing against much bigger, more solidly built boys and winning. But during the winter months he plays hockey for a coach who is focused on developing his players' core strength. And this was the "toothpick's" great advantage.

But having good core strength not only benefits the athlete. Ask any dancer whose livelihood depends on their ability to strenuously perform on a daily basis. Or ask the 70-year-old grandfather who still walks bolt upright and with confidence.

Of course, many of us will not be dependent on our athletic abilities or a perfect pirouette to make a living. But all of us want to go about our daily routine without fear of injury; and to age without experiencing pain with every step we take. So I would suggest to you that it is in all of our interests to invest some time in developing our core strength.

Now because of the complexity and number of muscles that make up this group, it is best that you have some sort of guide to take you along the way. In this respect there is some good news. Firstly there is a plethora of excellent resources out there to help you. Secondly, most of the exercises involved in developing core strength are aimed at working multiple groups of muscles, so developing your core strength will not consume an entire morning. Finally, almost all of the exercise is needed to develop your core strength require nothing in terms of exercise equipment-so you can do them at home, in a park, on a beach, or at your gym.

There is a saying that I return to again and again and it goes: "greater than the will to win, is the will to begin". And in this case it could not be more appropriate. Commit today to ever improving your core strength, and you'll enjoy the benefits for as long as you live. Just begin.
About the Author
I am a professional amateur in the field of health and fitness. I usually write about business and business applications. However, my eating habits and sedentary lifestyle ensure that I keep up with the latest trends in fitness, diet, and wellness. For more info: http://www.fitnessrookie.com
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