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How to Strengthen Your Core

Toni-Ann DiSantis

How to Strengthen Your Core

Strengthening your core is one of the best ways to get fit and is very helpful in many sports.  In fact, core muscles are engaged in all activities making them extremely important muscles to keep strong and healthy. Core muscles include all of the muscles of your mid-section including your abdominal muscles (front, side, and deep) low-mid back muscles and all of the hip muscles (glutes, hip flexors, pelvic floor muscles). You'll find some exercises focusing on those muscles listed here. Following the tips can go a long way in strengthening your core safely and effectively.

Finding Your Core Musculature. First you'll want to identify the muscles you'll be focusing on. Once you are familiar with these muscles, you'll be able to activate them throughout your day!

·        The transverse abdominus muscle is a deep abdominal muscle that is often a neglected part of your core. This muscle acts as a built in weight belt supporting/protecting the low back as well as holding internal organs in place. It plays an more important role in trunk stability differing from the stability your rectus abdominus (6 pack abs) and obliques (side waist muscles), which are exercised in sit-ups and crunches.

·        To engage your transverse abdominus and get a feel for this internal weight belt, pull your bellybutton towards your spine,at the same time pulling the low back muscles toward the belly keeping the focus below your belly button.

·        You'll want to engage this muscle throughout all of your daily activities as well as during your workout. You may also choose to do focused sets of the pull in if you are just starting out. Engage your transverse abdominus as described above to complete one repetition. Either choose 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions, or choose to hold each repetition for 10-30 seconds 3-5 times/set. Complete 2-3 sets.

Identifying your glutes (butt muscles) and getting them to fire can be tough. Stand up with your feet together, leg muscles tight, inner thighs "glued" together. Grow tall out of your waist, shoulders away from the ears, and squeeze your butt cheeks together. Pull these muscles in and up, squeezing as hard as you can. Release and tighten again. Hold these muscles tight for 20-30 seconds, release and repeat. Keep standing tall and focusing on your butt muscles. Tightening the legs and hip muscles will further engage these muscles. As you continue to squeeze these muscles, you will most likely feel your low back. This is normal, these muscles work together.