How to activate your core – Every time we move (sadly for some of you it’s not nearly enough) our body depends on certain internal or core muscles to help stabilise us while other muscles actually move your body. Core muscles lie deep within the trunk of our body. These muscles stabilise your trunk to create a firm foundation for coordinated movement of the legs and arms.
There are three distinct muscles that form the core.
- Pelvic floor; which travels from the pubic symphysis to the sacrum
- Transverse abdominis
A strong core is essential as it directly effects all aspects of your fitness and ultimately results in;
- More efficient and balanced movement
- Better posture
- Better form when doing your exercise program
- Less lower back pain
- Decrease likely hood of injury when lifting heavy
- A flatter stomach
Core activation should be considered an integral part of your training regime. Like stretching and warm up sets it gets your body ready to have a killer workout. Your personal trainer can provide a host of exercises that will be tailored to your specific needs based on a postural analysis. Having said that there many exercises that (in general) are considered good core activators.
- Deep breathing – Who’d ever thought breathing would activate your core. For those new to (deep) breathing find a wall (to guide you to good posture) and practice breathing using your diaphragm, do this by pushing you belly out when you inhale air. Repeat till exhaustion. Nah just kidding do it for 10 breaths or so.
- Pelvic floor activation – Standing with a neutral spine and try and stop your self going to the toilet. Repeat 10 times. I don’t like doing this one at the gym, people look at you funny!
- Draw-Ins From hands and knees – While on your hands and knees, inhale deeply and then exhale. As you exhale, draw bellybutton toward spine and up into chest. Hold this position for minimum of 6–20 seconds. Perform 3–5 reps per set.
- Bird dogs – google it or watch Disney cartoons
- Glute bridge – Lying down, create 90-degree angle at knees with feet on floor. While maintaining neutral spine, engage glutes (squeeze your bum cheeks together) so that hips move into hip extension (raise your hips).
- Plank - Elbows and toes, keep body rigid (don’t raise your bum)
- Side Plank - Same as plank but on your side
For the more advanced:
Instability training offers way more core activation than say stuff on a mat or bench. Include exercise balls, BOSU balls, resistance bands, air discs and stuff like that with your exercises. As an example do standing shoulder press on a BOSU ball instead of on the floor, do planks on an exercise (swiss) ball, or squats on air discs.