By: Riaan van der Walt

Core strength, whats the big deal? 

For those of us starting exercise programs for the first time, or for those of us trying to boost our performance in our existing hobbies, the topic of Core Strength is often spoken about or suggested…but what is it? And how do you make it better?

Understanding Core Strength:

It is the strength and endurance of the group of muscles that contract to hold you still. These are basically the muscles that make up the middle barrel of your body. This creates the “stable base” that you need to perform any movement. A good way to understand this, is imaging trying to push a door open while you are sitting on a chair….Sounds easy enough! You use your arm and shoulder muscles to push the door open. But what if the chair you are sitting on has wheels? It no longer matters how strong your arm is, you have lost the stability of the base that your arm is attached too. (In this case the chair, but outside of our example, this is your core)

Another critical part of understanding core strength muscles is to know that moving exercises can’t strengthen them much.

 

Why Does It Matter:

Well, because it works! Virtually all sport ever tested shows a clear link between improving core strength and improving performance. The reason is simple: If your arms and legs are working from a stronger and more stable base, they can kick harder, throw further, move faster etc etc…

It is a major factor, both directly and indirectly in injury prevention. Mostly this is true for the lower back.

 

So What Strengthens Your Core:

Pilates style exercises are a fantastic start…Planking is a good example

Basically, you want to create a difficult scenario to stay still through your core…and then try to stay still This engages your core intensely! Also know that you will see a lot of variety of movements and postures. If the middle of you burns, its working!

 

A Side Note:

The idea of “thinking about your core” constantly and engaging it throughout your day is not affective. Do a thought experiment with me to prove this: Read this newsletter again whilst constantly thinking about a pink elephant. We just can’t function like that. What you are looking for is a greater level of subconscious muscle tone (Tone while you are not thinking about it)…You can only achieve this through training.

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