For many, still, sit-ups, appear to be an appropriate core exercise or maybe the plank with some weird and wonderful adaptations thrown in for good measure. Taking a step back from this approach, is it really appropriate to exercise your ‘core’ separate to the rest of your body, and what is your ‘core’?!
What are the core muscles of the body?
Let’s start with discussing what your ‘core’ is. Whilst reading this article I want you to ignore your own understanding of where the ‘core’ is and think about what it performs. Try and think of some attributes of the core. What does it provide you and your body with? What would happen if you didn’t have a core? Now put this into context with your daily life: how would it affect your lifestyle – going to work, enjoy your hobbies, driving, having massage treatment, doing the dishes, etc.?!
Hopefully, you’ve have come up with some things that help you function through these activities along the line of balance, stability, coordination, efficiency, strength, etc. So if all these things stem from what the core provides, then is just the abdominal area that provides the core the basis of the strong core?
The Basis Of The Strong Core
Might the core actually include proprioceptors underneath the feet to stabilize a standing position, the adductor and abductors to stabilize the knees and hip during motion, the back muscles to support lumbar extension and many other muscle groups?!
The key is that and that alone…groups. Muscles, unless tested in a laboratory, do not operate on their own exercises that isolate muscle groups do nothing more make you strong in that very specific environment and nothing more. Performing sit-up is a good exercise for someone needing to strengthen their body in order to sit-up and get out of bed, but if you’re able-bodied, is a sit-up appropriate exercise?
Is A Sit-Up Appropriate Exercise
Firstly because sit-up starts from a lying or sitting position with flexed hips, the gluteus is deactivated making it very unlikely that the transverse abdomens will work. Secondly, the movement of sit-up is hip and some spinal flexion, and if the transverse isn’t working then synergistic dominance will leave the hip flexor group facilitating the movement.
This is not so great as due the amount of time we all spend seated, this group of muscles is typically overactive, tonic and practically a bully. In addition to this, with the gluteus and transverse out of the equation, what is supporting the lumbar and subsequently higher component of the spine? Well, the short answer is, not the areas that should be.
Those that enjoy doing sit-ups with weight piled on, I’ll leave you to decide whether or not this is a good idea.!
The core is a network of body parts that runs throughout the entire body. The truth is that any and every exercise should be a core exercise and the unfortunate truth is that the majority of us have inactive and inherently lazy stabilizing muscles. This is not, for most, a reflection of our attitudes, but more so a result of how we spend our time and our awareness of how to perform exercises and knowing what to focus on.!
Core muscles exercise – the best way to a slim waist
Here are some simple tips for you to get your core muscles working properly and turn every exercise into a functional core movement:
- Breathe through your stomach and set your hip profile for the exercise. There is plenty of guidance on abdominal breathing out there, just Google it and you’ll find hundreds of thousands of drills and activity to help you on this front!
- Attack each and every exercise with a sense of completely mastering it. Movements done half-heartedly or without a degree of focus shouldn’t be done at all. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t regress exercises to match your level, but that you should strive to perform them to the best of your ability. Learn what is full range, which muscles should be working more and how this can fit into your program!
- Stick to exercise that feel natural and engage your entire body. If exercise feels wrong, robotic just awkward, then don’t do them. You will always be the best judge of whether your bodysuits a particular exercise or movement and the sooner you figure this out, the better!
- The majority of your exercise should be done from standing. This is how the body is designed to function and will always get the most effective and natural response from the muscle