Would you believe us if we told you that in the long run, core training is far more important than chest or bicep training?
Sure, you’d rather have a set of great guns than have a rock solid core. And we understand you. A high level of arm/back/chest/leg development is more visible and thereby more visually impressive than a well-developed core, so most people choose to primarily focus on those features. Although it’s true that since it’s vital to both upper and lower body training, the core gets a certain amount of work during many routines which target other body parts, that’s usually not nearly enough to tap into its true strength potential.
The muscles known as the core are a corset of muscle groups surrounding the back and abdomen, or more precisely, the transversus abdominis, multifidis, diaphragm and pelvic floor. These powerhouse muscles are practically our bodies’ connection between the lower and upper extremities and they are responsible for providing a solid base upon which all other muscles can work upon to initiate movement.
In other words, since almost all motions are generated or assisted by the core, to increase your core strength means to increase your overall strength and performance, lessen the risk of injury and indefinitely improve your posture and form. On the other hand, a weak core will inevitably limit, delay or completely halt your progress and prevent you from reaching your maximum.
Here are 3 great advantages of having a well-developed core:
Among other things, strengthening your core means improving the function and coordination of the muscles that make it up. This is a critical measure for preventing injury, especially in the lower back. In fact, back pain is often a symptom of having a weak or imbalanced core.
Another perk of having a strong core is an improved posture. One of the jobs of the core muscles is to keep your back straight and shoulders neutral, so when they lack strength, your back is likely to become slumped or hunched and that can cause serious damage to your lumbar spine in the long run. Regularly training your core will fix and strengthen your posture.
Let’s not forget about the aesthetic results. Given that your diet is in order and you don’t carry around an excessive amount of visceral fat, training your core will help you get the stomach of your dreams. That being said, you need to focus on strengthening your deep core muscles which make up the bigger part of your overall core strength, such as the transversus abdominis, instead solely isolating the more superficial abdominal muscles such as the six pack.
If you have been neglecting your core so far, it’s time to give it the work it deserves! If you start training your core regularly, we guarantee that you’ll see some major strength improvements in all of your major lifts in a short period of time, which will then translate to better mass gains. On top of that, a strong core will reduce your susceptibility to injury and eliminate many potential sources of back pain!
Here are 2 fundamental exercises for developing those deep core muscles, sculpting attention-grabbing abs and improving overall strength and performance:
#1. Barbell Rollout
This is a very tough yet extremely effective exercise for building a strong core. To perform it, get in a press-up position and position your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart on the barbell, keeping your head neutral and shoulders relaxed. As you squeeze your core and engage your glutes, allow the barbell to roll out under full control until you reach parallel with the ground. Reverse the movement to return to the starting position.
If you find this too difficult, perform the exercise with resistance bands to assist the movement. Place the band on your waist and perform the roll-out. Aim to reduce the assistance as you get stronger, until you get to the point where you’re able to execute a full bodyweight roll-out.
#2. Weighted Russian Twist
Russian twists are ideal for training the obliques, which are of vital importance when it comes to supporting the lower back.
To perform it, sit down with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle and your back at a 45-degree angle to the floor. Lift your feet off the ground and use only your core to remain stable. Grab a dumbbell or kettlebell with both hands and hold it in front of your body with the arms bent at the elbows. Keeping your legs stationary, engage your core to rotate your upper body from side to side. The range of motion will be limited, but it’s crucial to move through the ribs and not the arms.
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If this proves to be impossible at the moment, start by keeping your feet on the floor and bending your knees. Again, lean back so that your back and the floor form a 45-degree angle, hold the weight in front of you and rotate the torso from side to side.