Core + More: Why You Should Be Training More Than Your Six-Pack

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We <3 ab exercises — you can often do them lying down on a mat [okay, not every workout needs to involve running + jumping ; )] + no soreness hurts as good as the core, especially when you’re laughing! Still, ab workouts are sometimes only in pursuit of a chiseled six-pack. Don’t get us wrong — that would be fab too! — but it’s so important to strengthen your core for other reasons. Your core is your center of gravity + influences every activity in your daily life. With a strong core, your performance + posture can be improved, while reducing potential pain.

CORE IS MORE

Your torso is the home to lots of precious cargo — muscles, bones, + organs. Most people refer to the rectus abdominis [six-pack] + obliques when talking about abs, but there is so much more. You’ve also got your internal + external obliques + transversus abdominis from the front, but your back is also a part of your core with your latissimus dorsi [lats] + spinal erectors. Other parts of your core even include our diaphragm, pelvic floor, + glutes. But enough of the scientific terms — you’ve got a lot of muscles + many ways to train them.

You might do crunches for your six-pack, heel reaches for your obliques, + twists for your transversus abdominis, but what does this really mean? Are you trying to reach a certain muscle *burn,* or are you trying to actually be stronger? 500 crunches may sound hard, but is it really beneficial? You might be hurting your lower back in the process if you let your form fail with fatigue.

PREVENT INJURY

In almost all exercises, your core is being used as a stabilizer. Whether it’s running, cycling, squatting, or dancing, your core should be active to ensure proper posture + maximized efficiency. A strong core means stronger everything else! Core stability protects the spine + prevents injury. It is more common for women to have very flexible lower backs, which can decrease core stability. Moreso than in sports + exercising, simple movements without core stability frequently cause unexpected injuries, often resulting in low-back pain.

IMPROVE POSTURE

Especially when you’re sitting hunched over textbooks + mobile screens, a strong core is important to maintain proper posture. Mobility is a *huge* part of core strength, especially if you want to maintain strength from when you’re 20 until you’re 80! Even when you’re not studying, you still may be sitting in some way like at a desk, which often does not promote good posture. Strengthening your core can make it easier for your muscles to remain engaged, even while you’re sitting.

BREATHE THROUGH IT

Breathing is one factor in core work that often goes unnoticed. It’s not only important to breathe to help keep your mind off of a killa workout ; ) Breathing with your diaphragm allows for the highest possible efficiency by constantly engaging your core muscles when you might not otherwise.

Next time your train your core, think about our why. No one is going to get a six-pack overnight + no one is going to improve their posture overnight. Still, slowly strengthening all your core muscles is vital to a maintaining a healthy, strong body throughout your entire life. Do it for l y f e : )

+ Mary [@itsmarykfit] // VirtCHAARG Chicago

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