Once upon a time, in a gym far, far away, exercisers would scrunch and crunch their abs with hopes of six-pack perfection. And since a buff belly is a sought-after feature, we engaged in this one-dimensional workout for decades.
It wasn’t until recently that fitness shifted its focus from the abs to the massive muscle groups surrounding them. To tone the tummy, and improve your overall health and physique, you need to train your core.
So what’s all the commotion about core strength? If you’re unaware of what your core muscles are, or where they are, you’re not alone. It’s common to confuse the core and abs as being one and the same.
Here’s a simple explainer on your core, and why you should care about it:
Location: From your neck to your hips. This includes your shoulders, back and pelvic floor.
Function: Enables such daily movements as walking, sitting and standing, as well as providing spinal stability, postural support, balance and structural alignment. It’s especially important for women of childbearing age to practice powering up their core to help with labor and post-delivery recovery.
The core muscles sit on the skeleton like a corset. The tighter and stronger your core muscles are, the more secure your body will be.
How to engage the core: Take a deep breath, relaxing your shoulders and opening your chest. Brace the muscles of your belly as if you were about to take a punch to the gut. Sightly shift your pelvis to tuck your tailbone beneath your body. Your lower abs and glutes should feel sturdy and engaged.
How to work the core: Start with these low-impact exercises.
Plank weight shift
Glute bridge march
For a strong, svelte body, always keep up with your core.