What Is Your Core? + 10 Exercises to Improve Your Core Strength
Strengthening the core with core exercises are at the top of many people's fitness goal.
For many, a strong core means having flat and ripped abs.
That's because the word core is often used interchangeably with abs.
But your core is more than just your abs.
The core consists of many muscles, including those located closest to the spine. They are primarily responsible for providing stability and preventing excessive movement that could place stress on the spine.
While other core muscles, generally the larger and more visible muscles in the mirror, are primarily responsible for generating movement.
Your core is involved in every movement you make or not make. Everything from proper sitting to getting out of your car or picking something off the floor is the work of your core.
This article will explain what your core muscles are and what it does. After that, I'll share some good exercises you can do to strengthen your core.
What is your core?
Your core is composed of a serious group of muscles, excluding your arms and legs, but include everything from the back, side, pelvic, psoas, and the gluteal muscles as well as your upper and lower abdominals (1).
Altogether, it's known as your core.
That's right. The core is not one muscle or even one muscle group of muscles for that matter, as commonly believed.
These sets of muscles form a sturdy central link between the upper and lower body. Much like the trunk of a tree, they need to be strong and flexible.
They are an essential part of bodily movements, acting as a dynamic stabilizer passing force from one extremity to another or initiating movement itself.
A core lacking in flexibility or strength can often interrupt movements and make it hard to move efficiently.
Benefits of a strong core
Because of each of your body movement such as twisting, bending, supporting, and even stabilizing involves core, having a strong core is instrumental in keeping you mobile and your body healthy and strong.
And regardless of where motion initiates, it flows upward and downward passing the core (2).
It's truly a health matter to condition your core and keep it flexible and strong for your daily performance as well as athletic performance.
Everyday benefits of a stronger core
Daily tasks // Being able to perform basic daily activities such as bending over to pick up a heavy box, pushing a door opens, putting something up in the cabinet bend, all call on the core muscles.
Proper posture // Walking and sitting with proper posture all involve your core muscles. A stronger core will ensure all involved muscles are properly engaged, not compensating for other muscles.
Healthy lower back // Lower back pain is one of the most common causes of disability in the U.S and affecting more than 31 million Americans. Being affected with lower back pain prevents you from doing the simplest daily task. Luckily, you can help prevent back pain with exercises that promote well-balanced, resilient core muscles. A stronger core will provide better stability for your spine.
Become a better weekend athlete // core exercises will almost improve all aspects of your game. You'll be able to run faster, jump higher, and hit harder with a stronger core. Your mobility, agility, and power are dependent on core strength.
House chores, gardening // bending, lifting, twisting, mopping, you name it—all house chores become a lot easier by strengthening your core.
The takeaway: Your core stabilizes your body, allowing you to move in any direction, even on the bumpiest terrain— or stand in one spot without losing your balance. Viewed this way, core exercises can lessen your risk of falling.
Now we understand what the core is and how beneficial a strong core can be.
Let's dive into examples on some good core exercises:
These core exercises listed below will strengthen your core muscles, including your abdominal muscles, back muscles and the muscles around the pelvis.
Click on each exercise to go to its description page and see picture examples and full descriptions on how to do it correctly.
2. Side Plank
4. Butt Bridge
8. One-Leg RDL
9. Wood Chop
10. Diamond Situp
Your core muscles go way beyond than just your abs, and they have many responsibilities from stabilizing your spine to transferring force from one part of your body to another.
They're involved in almost every movement in your body, and a strong core makes it easier to do many physical activities.