Five things you should know about core training

8 March 2018 by
First published: 7 March 2018

Five things you should know about core training

From fancy Pilates classes to record-holding plank holds, people are constantly looking for more and more effective ways to get the core fired up.

But core training is more than just being able to do impressive balances on a Swiss ball – although they do look pretty cool. Fitness writer Amanda recently went on Future Fit’s Core Training workshop, and discovered the endless ways in which you could easily and effectively build your core strength and stability – you might be surprised to learn a few things.

1 Sit-ups may overload the hips

Although some variation of sit-ups feature in most fitness programmes and classes, they haven’t really stood the test of time. The exercise places too much focus on the hip flexors, which already spend a lot of time in contraction since most of us sit down all day. Opting for a crunch instead can alleviate the issue of shortening hip flexor muscles, or perhaps even a plank.

2 It’s all about functional training

It’s more bad news for sit-ups – personal trainers have moved away from dynamic exercises like sit-ups and crunches that isolate the abs in a bid to challenge the trunk muscles in a more functional way. Taking inspiration from Pilates, we are now seeing training that aims to treat back pain, postural problems and muscular imbalances that requires activation from the core that just isn’t needed for traditional abs moves like sit-ups.

3 A strong core means a strong everything

Making core training functional means that it improves your training in pretty much every other aspect. Learning how to increase intra-abdominal pressure will protect your spine when doing activities such as weight lifting, allowing you to perform with better technique and to lift heavier.

4 The core include the pelvic floor

Okay, so pelvic floor training might not be the latest trending Instagram topic, but it’s more important than you think. Often thought of as a way to deal with incontinence in older women, working the pelvic floor through core and abdominal training is much more than that. Think protection of the organs (we need those!) and resisting sudden rises in intra-abdominal pressure (such as while lifting those heavy weights).

5 Don’t forget to breathe

Tensing or bracing the core and abs often leads to holding the breath, but proper breathing is necessary if we’re after optimal core stability. Inhale and expand the lungs, then breathe out as you draw your navel to spine. The spine should remain in neutral position throughout. The challenge is to keep this going while focusing on other movements!

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