What Your Core Really Is and How to Strengthen It


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What Your Core Really Is and How to Strengthen It

Tuesday 10:05am

Illustration by Sam Woolley

Crunches and planks aren’t everything. If you want to strengthen your core, you need to think bigger. Your core includes all the muscles in your torso, from your shoulders down to your hips. And it does a lot more than help you sit up.

Why a Weak Core Is a Liability

This weekend I took a TRX class. Most of the moves require you to keep your core steady while you grab the suspension trainer’s straps with your hands, and do some kind of pushing or pulling motion. It’s an amazing full-body workout. But there was a guy at the end of my row who was there for the first time, and either couldn’t keep his core steady, or didn’t know how. His back would sag when he was supposed to be in a pushup position, or he would turn a row into a crunch. As a result, he wasn’t getting the most out of the exercises.

A strong core is important for runners and swimmers, too. Your body twists with every footstep or every stroke, so you need to keep your torso steady and strong. In fact, since your core is connected to your arms and legs, controlling your core helps to pull your arm through the water or stabilize your leg on the ground. Without a strong core, you can’t swim or run your best.

When I played roller derby, a strong core was essential to delivering a powerful hit. To shove someone with your shoulder, your body needs to be solid all the way from the floor to the point of impact—so that includes your legs and torso. If you go for a hip check instead, you might think you don’t have to worry about anything above your hips. But without strong, engaged core muscles, your upper body will flop around on impact, throwing you off balance.

  • What I Learned Doing Push-Ups Every Day for a Month

  • Five Ways to Work Out in the Gym When It’s Crazy Packed

  • ©2017 Gizmodo Media Group

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