Develop a Strong Core With These Tips!

By Chris Pregony
Core Strengthening

Sit up straight! Don’t slouch! At one time or another we have heard these words from our parents. Believe it or not, they were onto something. Poor posture and lack of a strong core has led to countless visits to the chiropractor or even worse, the back surgeon. Someone once asked me if there were any chiropractors in Africa. I assumed no and I was right. He went on to talk about how people over there walk, carry things and bend down to pick things up. The world has become all too convenient for us Americans. Side rails and shoes that propel us forward, along with jobs that require us to sit for hours on end have led to a weakening core.

How do we fix our core?

In order to fix the problem, we must first understand what makes up the core. There are several muscles that combine to make up this intricate symphony that allows us to sit and stand upright. We are only going to talk about a few. The transverse abdominis acts as a girdle wrapping around the waist. This muscle helps stabilize the spine and is considered by most fitness professionals to be the most important. The next is the popular rectus abdominis. This muscle helps with spinal flexion and is what makes up the six-pack. The last one we’ll discuss is the erector spinae. This muscle makes up the lower back and is involved in spinal hyperextension. Having a strong lower back is the key to making a strong core.

1. Posture

The single most important thing you can do for your core is to maintain proper posture throughout your day. This can be a difficult task considering most of us sit at a computer all day with our shoulders protracted and hunched over. A good place to start is to use a timer. You can begin by using your phone or some other device to beep every 30 minutes. Every time it beeps you can sit up tall, draw your shoulders back and elongate your abdomen. Doing a five-minute ab workout doesn’t make up for 23 hours 55 minutes of bad habits.

2. Lift weights

Lifting weights, especially using the lower body, is one of the best ways to build a strong core. Squats are a great place to start. Think about it: if you were to place a weighted bar across your back without any core muscles you would collapse. It is the core that stops that from happening. The deadlift is a great example of a lower body exercise that works the core. The deadlift focuses more on the lower back, but still requires the anterior muscles to maintain rigidity throughout the core.

3. Yoga/Pilates

If you have ever taken a Pilates or yoga class, then you have heard your instructor yell out, “belly button to spine” during your session. This means you should contract your transverse abdominis. These two forms of exercise are a great way to work the core without weights. The poses force you to use the core muscles in ways you may not get to during your normal day or exercise routine.