What Trainers Mean When They Talk About Your ‘Core’
This is Your Quick Training Tip, a chance to learn how to work smarter in just a few moments so you can get right to your workout.
People often talk about the core as if it’s one big muscle, which is likely why so many people associate “core training” with carving its showiest member: the abs. But targeting your core in your workouts is worth more than just a chiseled six-pack (although that is a nice perk); it can also unlock greater total body strength, power, and athleticism—not to mention slash your risk of injury.
The major muscles of your core include your transverse abdominis, multifidus, internal and external obliques, erector spinae, diaphragm, pelvic floor muscles, and (of course) your abs, the rectus abdominis. Your minor core muscles include your lats, traps, and (to the surprise of many people) your glutes. All of these muscles have their own unique functions—your glutes extend your hips and your obliques rotate and flex your torso, for example—but they all also perform one of two key actions that bind them as “core” muscles: they support and stabilize your spine or pelvis.
In so doing, these muscles not only provide postural control and stability, but also facilitate the transfer of power between your limbs and between your lower and upper body. That’s why it’s so important to prioritize your core in your training program. The stronger it is, the more powerful, dynamic, and explosive every movement you make will be, and the fewer injuries you’ll have.
Your move: You likely already hammer your major core muscles with moves such as the crunch and plank, but it’s important to not allow your core training to become routine. That’s how plateaus happen, so regularly switch up the exercises you do.
Need some inspiration? Check out 25 of our favorite abs exercises to stay on the fast track to a six-pack. Want a little more consistency in your training to keep you on the straight and narrow? Stick with our 30-day ab challenge for a full month. The plan is designed to give you a more holistic set of core exercises than you might be used to–so you’ll get stronger as you get closer to your goals.
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