There is much more to your core than the abs. What we know as ‘the core’ is in fact a complex series of muscles that include the pelvic floor muscles, transversus abdominis, multifidus, internal and external obliques, rectus abdominis, erector spinae, the diaphragm, latissimus dorsi, gluteus maximum and trapezius.
These muscles are involved in almost every movement of the human body and can act as isometric or dynamic stabilizers for movement, initiate movement by themselves or transfer force from one extremity to another. Therefore, the performance of most exercises depends on strong and stable core muscles. A stronger core inevitably leads to bigger lifts, and by the way, you can have all the leg strength in the world but without a stable core you won’t be able to use it efficiently.
Not to mention that if you don’t have stability in your abs, heavy squats will be off the limits. Core exercises train the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, abdomen and hips to work together in a coordinated fashion, resulting with improved balance, stability and overall performance, which is why core exercises should be a vital part of any well-rounded training routine.
As an important part of your core, your abdominal area in itself is also a complex muscle group, consisting of:
- The rectus abdominis muscles, otherwise known as “the abs”, are a pair of long, flat muscles that extend vertically along the entire length of the abdomen. The function of the rectus abdominis is to move the part of your body between the ribcage and the pelvis, provide postural support and stability and protect internal organs in the abdominal and pelvic area.
- The obliques – the external obliques are muscles located along the sides and front of your abdomen, mostly responsible for flexion and rotation. The internal obliques are found underneath the external obliques, run in the opposite direction and perform the same activities as the external ones.
- The transverse abdominis – this muscle is seated deep in the abdomen, underneath both the external and internal obliques, and it wraps around the spine, providing both protection and stability. The transverse abdominis is a key element of your core which essentially provides the foundation for every heavy lift.
In other words, this muscle group is the basis for a strong and stable core and should be the focus of your core workout. Endless sets of crunches don’t really constitute a real core workout because they put too much strain on the back and don’t target the abdominal muscles very effectively, while bridges and planks are still recognized as the best basic core exercises.
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