Here’s How Increasing Your Core Strength Changes Your Body
Washboard abs – yes please! But there are also plenty of non-aesthetic reasons to boost core strength. “Some of the strongest people in the world don’t have six packs and they can lift a lot, hit sixes and perform tremendous feats of athleticism,” says performance coach Brett Klika. Here’s what you’ll gain when you think bigger and train smarter.
1. No more pain
A strong core is a major factor in staying injury-free, particularly in the hips and knees, says strength and conditioning specialist Michelle Arent. Research shows that women with good core engagement are better able to control how their knees move while performing strength exercises, like single-leg squats and lunges, which may protect against ACL tears. The core also helps stabilise the pelvis and femurs, says Arent, noting that the glutes (yes, also part of this powerhouse pack of muscles!) play a big role in fighting pain. Basically, your core is the foundation for all ache-free movement.
2. Better posture
Your core muscles wrap around and support your spine, making it easier to maintain posture. For one thing, proper positioning prevents ouch-inducing micro-movements between joints, says Dr Stuart McGill, a professor emeritus of kinesiology and author of Back Mechanic. Plus, it just looks nice. “Poor posture tucks in the glutes, giving you the ‘no butt’ look, and slumped shoulders push the neck forward, creating a belly pooch even if you don’t have one,” says Klika. On the flip side, good posture makes you appear confident, healthy and symmetrical.
3. Peak athleticism
Building core power gives you a leg up in sports because your stability, balance and agility start at your centre. Think of your body as a chain in which your middle connects your arms and legs, says Klika. If your core muscles work together while you move, there won’t be any “leaks” in the translation of power from the lower to the upper body. That allows you to rotate when throwing, punching or reaching to control your spine dives and catches, says Arent.
These staple exercises are the most effective and efficient way to hit all of your core muscles. Invest in a set of dumbbells (these ones from MrP Sport are well priced) and incorporate deadlifts and farmer carries into strength workouts twice a week and do a bird dog every day.