“Strengthen your core” “Build your core” are common sayings in the fitness world, but what is the core and what will strengthening your core actually do for you?

The difference between core and abs

The core can be defined as all the musculature between your knees and your chest (roughly!) So it will include all the abdominal, back, glutes, hamstrings, quads etc. So when we talk about strengthening the core it could be as simple as a situp OR as complex as a snatch or power clean.

Abs or abdominal exercises just focus on your abodominal muscles, which is only 1 part of your core.

I believe this is an important distinction to make, because you can do abdominal exercises all you like, but core work is a combination of compound / isolation movements (e.g. squats!), abdominal and back exercises!

What are the benefits of a strong core?

The benefits of making your core strong include:
1. Ability to control your torso and limbs
2. Better transfer of speed and strength (power!)
3. Better balance and stability

These things will help you whether you are carrying your child around the house when they want “uppa” all the time, playing your sport better, improving your lifting, relieve some instances of lower back pain, or even pre / post natal preparation and recovery!

So how do I get one? 🙂

Now to the fun part! How do we improve our core strength. Break it in a couple of different categories:
1. Compound / Isolation movements – Squats, dead lifts, lunges, step ups…..the list is endless
2. Abdominal Work – Static such as planks / Dynamic such rotation, situps / Combinations
3. Back work – Static / Dynamic / Combinations

We cover a lot of stuff on the compound movements & I wrote a whole article here on back work so today I will focus on the bit everyone loves and that is abdominal work!

Where are my abs???? – 3 Simple exercises to help!

Here are 3 simple exercises that can help take your abodominal and core strength up!

1. Plank

Love to hate them, they are a great STATIC abdominal exercise and can help teach a nice neutral spine position. They will engage your six pack (rectus abdominis), your transverse abdominals, quads, glutes and shoulders! It is important to maintain a nice neutral position because if you sag at the waist it can put pressure through your lower back.

You can also scale them by lowering your knees to the floor.

2. Pallof Press

Another STATIC Exercise this time targeting primarily the muscles that help create rotation / side bend OR resist it your OBLIQUES. It will also engage your transverse abdominals, glutes and your upper back to maintain a good shoulders back position.

3. Dead Bug

This is a wonderfully versatile exercise! 🙂 You can add in anti rotation variations and do lots of wonderful things with it! Primarily for your six pack & Transverse abdominal muscles.

I have added small video above for the technique of each exercise!

Here is an example circuit that combines the 3 exercises:

3 Rounds of the following super set (complete each one after the other!)
A1 1 min Plank
A2 10x Pallof Press Each Side
A3 1 min Dead Bug

Rest 60s

Remember find a balance of doing core, abs and back work to keep yourself strong and healthy! 🙂