###The Importance of Engaging Your Core in Exercise
A common New Year’s resolution is to exercise more, but knowing where to start can be overwhelming. Many people opt for fitness classes, personal trainers, or home workouts. Regardless of the method, one phrase that often comes up in training is “engage your core.” Engaging your core is crucial for achieving any fitness goal, as it helps you become physically stronger, improves your running ability, and enhances your performance in sports, according to Jahkeen Washington, a strength coach and owner of Harlem Kettlebell Club in New York. Additionally, training the core has benefits outside of the gym, such as improving stability and reducing the risk of fall-related injuries.
Knowing which muscles to use is the first step in properly activating your core. While many people associate a strong core with visible abs, it’s important to note that abdominal muscles are just one part of core strength. Washington explains that a person can have visible abs without a strong core, and vice versa. The core also includes muscles in the back and pelvic floor, which support the spine and stabilize the trunk. Having a strong core allows for rotation and twisting of the torso, providing the force needed to return to an upright position after bending over.
Contrary to popular belief, engaging your core does not involve sucking in your belly. In fact, this can weaken the core and lead to chronic pain and tension in the back and neck. Instead, proper core engagement involves a bracing action, which can be felt when the stomach pulls back in during exhalation. It’s important to prioritize core work in every workout, starting with breathwork exercises to become familiar with core activation. Visualization can also be helpful in learning how to activate the core, such as imagining being a boxer about to get punched in the stomach and absorbing the blow by keeping the body stiff and abdominals tense.
When it comes to exercises that build core strength, planks are at the top of the list. Planks require individuals to draw their belly buttons in to maintain proper form, making them more effective at activating the core muscles than crunches. To perform a plank, one should have shoulders away from the ears, wrists directly in line with the shoulders, and a neutral spine. Starting with shorter holds and gradually increasing the time spent in a plank is recommended to avoid straining the core.
Another effective exercise for building core strength is the hundred, a Pilates exercise that involves lifting the neck and chest off the mat, extending the arms in front, and lifting the legs off the ground. This exercise is a full-body workout that engages the core muscles. Consistency is key when it comes to seeing results from core exercises. Incorporating one to two core moves in every workout, even if it’s only once a week, can help build strength. For best results, it is recommended to practice core exercises at least three times a week.
In conclusion, engaging your core is vital for achieving fitness goals and improving overall stability. Knowing which muscles to use, avoiding the misconception of sucking in the belly, and incorporating exercises like planks and the hundred can help build core strength. Consistency is key, and with regular training, individuals may start to see results in as little as eight weeks.
Original Story at www.cnn.com – 2024-01-09 17:08:00