Fitness

How to Maintain a Strong Core

You’ve been intentionally working on your core strength, and you’re noticing changes. The next step is learning to maintain.


Let’s start by breaking down the main muscles that make up our core.

Internal and External Obliques: These muscles work together. External oblique is an opposite side rotation muscle, while internal oblique is a same side rotation muscle. Here’s how to think of it. Right external oblique and left internal oblique rotate/twist the spine left. Left external oblique and right internal oblique rotate/twist the spine right.

Transverse abdominis: a deep layer of core that wraps around the waist and supports the spine, acting like a girdle.

Rectus abdominis: two paired sheets of muscle from the ribs to the pelvis to help you bend forward, commonly referred to as the ‘six-pack.’ 

Our core is constantly being activated whether or not we are exercising–whenever you laugh, sneeze or have a bowel movement (TMI). There are targeted movements to help strengthen the core (ie. a plank) and other exercises that naturally exert your core (ie. running).

 

You’ve been intentionally working on your core strength, and you’re noticing changes. The next step is learning to maintain.

Let’s start with the basics. We can’t stress this enough: your core is the same as any other muscle in your body, and must be treated as such. A muscle is a muscle. When we begin focusing on maintenance of the core, we must consider three important elements about muscles:

They don’t work independently: You don’t need to choose a core-focused workout in order to work your abs.

They adapt to resistance training: You cannot do the same core exercise repeatedly and expect continued results.

They need appropriate recovery to develop: Just like the rest of our muscles, rest is essential. When we overwork a muscle, we experience discomfort from soreness and swelling. A continually overworked core may also lead to injury.

 

Now, how can we implement this knowledge as a tool to maintain a strong core?

#1: Exercise Variations
Ensure you’re implementing a well-rounded workout routine by signing up for different bande class modalities.

#2: Always Engage
Having a strong core is a good start, but learning to engage it during an exercise is different. Tighten your abdominal muscles during any sort of exercise (core focused or not). Eventually, it’ll become a natural reaction to engage your core.  

#3: Mix it up!
Regularly change your targeted abdominal exercises! Muscle confusion promotes progress.

#4: Rest Day
Don’t forget to REST! You do not need (and should not) work your core every single day. All of our muscles deserve a rest day to recover.

 

Don’t forget, the core is one of the most important muscles of the body. Make sure you’re paying attention and not leaving out these essential muscles. Learn more about why here.

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