Having a strong core isn’t about showing off your athletic six pack or toned abs.
Strong core muscles are important for everyday things – carrying children, lugging groceries, gardening and life in general. They support your spine and pelvis and are vital in keeping you strong, balanced and to protect your lower back from injury.
Developing this girdle of protection is more subtle than protection is more subtle than cranking out 100 crunches. It’s about activating the muscles deep within your abdomen and code.
“To correctly activate your core and pelvic floor, it’s easiest to feel if you lie down on your back and bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor,” fitness trainer Donna Aston says.
Place your fingers on the front of your hip bones and slide then inward 2-3cm. To activate your pelvic floor muscles, think of stopping yourself from going to the bathroom, You should feel a slight tightening beneath your stomach should stay flat.
FIVE CORE EXERCISES
Kie on your back with your hands by your sides, knees bent and feet flat on the floor below your knees. Tighten your abdominal and buttock muscles to raise your hips to create a straight line from your knees to shoulders. Squeeze your core and try to pull your belly button towards your spine. Hold for 2-30sec.
Lying flat on the ground, raise your legs together up to 90 degrees then slowly lower them towards the ground without actually touching the ground, Repeat.
Sitting on the floor, use your core muscles to lift your legs to a 45-degree angle. Reach your arms straight forward and maintain the position.
Lie on your elbows and knees lock your hands together, straighten your legs and raise your body so you are on the balls of your feet. Face the floor and hold the position for as long as you can without arching your back or sticking your bottom in the air. Your body should be straight line.
Lie with your back flat on the floor, raise your legs to 90 degrees, put your hands behind your head and point your elbow to your kneem raising your upper body in small movements.
“At the same time, think of gently drawing your navel in towards your spine until you feel the muscle tightening beneath your fingers. You should still be able to breathe normally and talk when these muscles are contracted correctly. Once you have mastered contracting these muscles, you can begin to practise in standing and seated positions until it becomes second nature.”
Seven-time Ironman champion turned fitness coach Guy Leech says 10 minutes of core strengthening exercises just three times a week is enough to make a difference.
“You can do sit-ups until the cow comes home but if you don’t lock in the inner muscles which are so important in protecting the lower back, it’s not actually protecting that area,” Leech says.
Prone holds such as plank squeeze strengthen and tighten the core muscles. Leech says no matter what your fitness level it’s important to focus on the core to protect your back, About 90 percent of people report having back problems during their lives and of those about 80 percent have recurring issues.
Leech will attempt to set a world record when he conducts what he hopes will the World’s Largest Core Fitness Circuit Class on March 14 as part of the Arnold Classic Multi Sport Festival at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. The event’s namesake, Arnold Schwarzenegger, will be there.