A lot of us join gyms to improve how we look. We are attracted to those pictures of toned, firm bodies and six-pack abs. In fact, for most of us, when we hear the phrase “Core Conditioning”, what comes to mind are pictures of firm tummies and six-pack abs. We all know that firming up tummies is the most common reason why many people turn to core exercises.
If you too thought that that’s what core conditioning can do for you, you’re right. Well, partially. Exercising to strengthen your “core” can help you look great. But there is a lot more to core conditioning than achieving those elusive six-pack abs.
Let’s look at why core conditioning is so important.
The core muscles are muscles that lie between your rib cage and your hips. These include your abdominal muscles, muscles in your lower back, and your pelvic muscles.
Athletes and sports persons spend a lot of time strengthening their core muscles. But did you know that your core muscles play an essential role in other areas of your life as well? For example, when you are moving furniture or lifting a child, reaching up to a shelf, or just mopping the floor, you are using your core muscles.
Studies have shown that well-coordinated core muscles help stabilise your spine. Your core creates a strong base of support for virtually all your daily movements. That means if you want to lead a fit and healthy life, your fitness programme must incorporate exercises to strengthen your abdominal and other core muscles. These could include moderate-intensity aerobic exercises and some strength training designed to firm up your core muscles.
Core exercises focus on training your core muscles to work in a coordinated fashion to create more strength and stability.
Core conditioning also helps in improving your balance and stability, whether you are playing a sport or just going about your daily activities.
Now let’s dive a little deeper and look at why experts think core conditioning training is so essential and how can you benefit from these exercises.
A Strong Core - Your Support System
Did you know that core strength is crucial to all your daily movements? Well, almost everything you do in your day-to-day life – from getting out of your bed to walking down to the nearest shop or just bending over to pick something up – uses core muscles. In fact, they even help you stay upright.
Your core supports your spine and pelvis. These muscles also play a vital role in connecting your upper body and lower body and transferring forces from one part to the other.
What’s interesting is, your core muscles activate even before you start doing an activity. They work closely with your nervous system. When your nervous system anticipates an action, and braces for support, your core muscles start firing up.
If your core doesn’t have the strength or stability to support any activity that you do, you will most likely end up using other muscles to compensate. This can sometimes lead to severe injuries. If you have ever suffered from back pain, you will know what I’m talking about. A weak core is one of the critical reasons for potential lower-back injuries.
Studies have shown that undergoing core conditioning training – especially for your deep trunk muscles – can help alleviate lower-back pain to a large extent.
It’s not just back injuries; a weak core can also lead to injuries in other parts of your body as well – like your shoulders, hips, or knees. In many sports injuries, even if the core isn’t the main reason for the damage, most of the time, it plays a crucial part.
I’m sure, by now you know, why it’s important to build enough core strength before you start getting into any physical activity.
To better understand how much your body depends on your core, let’s look at what happens when you exercise.
- When you do push-ups, do you find your hips sagging a bit? Or, does your lower back arch? Or, does your stomach touch the ground first?
- When you do an overhead press at the gym, does your lower back arch or ribs push forward when you try to lift?
- When you do a deadlift, does your back hurt?
- Do you have to hunch forward or extend (arch) your back to do the lift?
All these are signs of a weak core.
That’s why core conditioning is such an essential component of any good fitness programme.
What’s In It For You - Benefits of core Exercises
Your core muscles help stabilise your entire body and also helps to provide you with a centre of gravity. Your core strength comes into play whenever you walk, sit, exercise, or perform pretty much any activity.
A lot of your body movements originate from your core. So, core conditioning training will not only enhance your posture; it will improve your spinal alignment and provide better balance and stability.
Here are some of the key benefits you will see with core conditioning.
Let’s Get Rid of That Nagging Back Pain: According to many studies, if you have weak core muscles, you have an increased risk of back injuries. Core conditioning exercises can improve support for your spine. They can also help improve mobility and alleviate discomfort for people suffering from acute and chronic back pain.
Stand Tall – Improve Your Posture: When you train your core, you will start seeing a marked improvement in the way you stand or sit. Core conditioning exercises can strengthen all the muscles of your torso and help you stand tall. This, in turn, reduces the risk of conditions such as slipped disc (disc herniation) or vertebrae degeneration. Your improved posture will also help you breathe better. A positive side benefit of all this is lesser stress levels.
Become a Sports Champion: Any athlete will tell you how important core strength is to their performance. Every sports or athletic activity – whether it is baseball, football, running, or rowing – uses core muscles. Core conditioning training can significantly help improve your performance in your chosen sport. So start working out your core muscles if you want to improve your golf swing or your tennis serve.
Improve Your Balance: Studies have shown that you can significantly improve your dynamic balance through core strengthening exercises.
Better Safety and Easier Mobility: If your core strength is high, your chances of injury while going about your daily tasks will be significantly reduced. So whether it is climbing a flight of stairs, lifting children, or carrying groceries, you will find it a lot easier to do if you work on your core strength. You have better control of your muscles and will be less prone to stress injuries.
Now that you have a good understanding of what core conditioning is and how you can benefit from it let us look at how you can build your core strength.
Exercises To Build a Strong Core
When it comes to building your core strength, it is vital to do it the right way. It is a good idea to approach a qualified expert who has a deep understanding of both human physiology and the most effective way to condition your core muscles.
One of the best trainers in the UK is Alex Kenchington A.K.A the Health Minister in South West London. He is a CHEK and FMA certified trainer and a former boxer.
Alex has years of experience working with people from all walks of life – from homemakers to athletes, from youngsters to middle-aged office workers. He is uniquely qualified to advise you on what’s right for you. So, if you are serious about your health and fitness, go ahead and check out the Health Minister’s website here: https://www.health-minister.com/. That will be a great starting point for your fitness journey.
Core conditioning programmes are different from other strength training programmes. They focus on several different muscles simultaneously using coordinated movements, rather than one muscle group at a time.
While there are countless exercises out there to help strengthen your core, here’s a word of caution. Not all core exercises are created equal. In fact, some may even prove to be detrimental to your overall progress if you are not careful.
That’s why you need to consult an expert before you start your training. A good trainer will be able to advise you on the best programme for you based on your body type.
So, if you are seriously thinking about core conditioning, don’t just use the first exercise you see on YouTube – talk to an expert first. I would highly recommend that you take a look at the programme offered by the Health minister in West London.
The reason is, the Health Minister’s approach is different from that of most other fitness trainers. He doesn’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach.
He creates his customised fitness programmes only after doing a detailed assessment that covers several key factors that include physical, psychological and lifestyle-related. You can check out his fitness plans here.
Like I said earlier, when it comes to core conditioning, there are many activities to choose from – from yoga to swimming, to kickboxing. Then there are plyometric moves, weight training – the list is virtually endless.
But before you jump in and commit to a programme, I would again urge you to talk to an expert who can advise you on what will suit your body type and lifestyle.
By now, I’m sure you have an excellent understanding of what core conditioning is and why you must make it a key component of your fitness regimen. It is the foundation that will not only help you excel in your goals, but also enable you to lead a healthy, injury-free, and fulfilled life.