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How to Build a Strong Core
The Merriam-Webster dictionary has quite a few definitions of the word core. After all, it has quite a few meanings, often relating to the middle of things. In the case of fitness, the core refers to the middle of the body. However, we think another dictionary description sums it up even better, as the “basic, essential, or enduring part” of something.
We prefer this description because it could not be any truer. The core of your body is indeed very essential to your physical health and strength. Working at it and keeping it healthy and powerful will be incredibly beneficial to you both during your workouts and also in your daily life.
What Is Your Core, Anyway?
Let’s start with the basics.
Your core is your set of abdominal and surrounding muscles, including your hips, back, and shoulders. For many, toning and strengthening their core is purely aesthetic— after all, a set of washboard abs is a very desirable feature to many of us. However, strengthening your core goes well beyond how you’ll look in a bathing suit this summer. After all, your abdominal muscles are the facilitators for a large bulk of the movements that you make every day. Also, it does store and protect your central nervous system, and quite a few of your organs. Because of this, core building and strengthening are important because they are great for your body, in terms of both your physical fitness routine and in your daily life.
Why is Core Strength So Important?
We believe that core strength is among the most crucial parts of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. A few of our most pressing reasons?
- It Can Do Wonders For Your Posture
Not only is poor posture not exactly the world’s most attractive look, but also it can be tough on your back and other parts of the body. If you’re a chronic “sloucher,” there’s still hope for you to improve your posture. As it turns out, a weak core might be to blame. By honing in on your core and working on strengthening it to the max, you’ll likely find that your shoulders and upper back are better primed for keeping upright.
- You Might Find You Have Less Daily Pain
You may assume that a weak core only causes pain after a tough workout that calls upon your abdomen. However, a weak core has also been found to contribute to physical pain outside of your exercise hours. Actually, overly built back muscles often go hand in hand with under-toned abdominal muscles. Furthermore, activities that aren’t great for your core have the same negative impact on your back. For example, sitting slouched over a desk every day without engaging your core muscles can lead to nasty complications, like compressed spinal discs.
- It’ll Keep Your Organs Safe
As we mentioned above, your abdominal muscles encase quite a few of your most essential organs, veins, and arteries. These internal parts work incredibly hard all day— and it’s the job of your abdomen to protect them.
When you strengthen the muscles of your core, you are giving another layer of security to your internal organs and arteries. A strong core will be able to give your organs the support it needs to function, and help you move with ease. Alternately, when your organs are left with no help from your weak core, you might find yourself having unexplained pain later in life.
- It’ll Make Injuries Far Less Likely— At the Gym, and In Daily Life
One of the best things about a strong core is the physical stability it provides. With a strong core, one can get the absolute most out of their workout routine; it can help you hold a yoga pose for longer, perfect your form for push-ups, or run with more speed and focus. Not only does this enhance your physical fitness results, it plays a large role in preventing you from getting injured.
When your body is in a stable, core-led position, it is easier to perform arduous tasks, whether that’s lifting a heavy sofa during a move, or participating in a triathlon. With either of these (very different) activities, it’s crucial for your movements to be on track. The wrong twist or turn in your body could most certainly ruin your day— or worse. Having the grounded stability of a strong core will prevent those types of injuries.
- Your Workout Routine Might Come Easier
A stronger core will make once-difficult seeming tasks feel like a breeze. After all, your body will be primed to perform them and will have the necessary strength to follow through. Also, less risk of injury will inspire you to keep working away.
- Your Body Will Look Incredible
First thing’s first: everybody is built differently. A strong, powerful core will not look the same on every person, and one most certainly does not need toned abs to look amazing. However, many people who spend time strengthening their core do find that their midsection becomes trimmer, and more toned in the process. So, if you just so happen to like how you look with a stronger core, that’s great news. Bring on the trips to the beach— chances are, you’ll feel confident, powerful, and attractive. Plus, that once-difficult jog along the sand will feel like child’s play.
Are There Certain Workouts That Strengthen the Core?
Lots of folks associate core strengthening exercise with crunches and yoga balls, but it can reach far beyond that. Really, there are plenty of core-strengthening exercises that suit a wide variety of lifestyles. After all— we all work out in different ways.
Plenty of popular exercises help to condition and strengthen the core, like push-ups, or dumbbell drags. We have quite a few favorites. However, our top three would probably be:
This is a classic core-strengthening exercise, and for good reason— it works! It’s also fairly straightforward to newbies to the fitness (or core strength focused) world. To perform a plank, come down to the floor, and place your forearms and knees on your matt. Your shoulders should be directly over the elbows, and your hands should be extended. Once you’re in position, tuck your toes, and gently lift up your knees away from the matt. Be sure to hold your form and keep your core taut. For this workout, try to start out doing this for a minute at a time. Eventually, you’ll likely be able to hold it for longer.
- Three Point Touch
The three-point touch is swiftly gaining popularity in fitness communities for its ability to strengthen the core without needing anything but a yoga mat.
To perform the three-point touch, get into a pushup position on your mat. Align your hands right beneath your shoulders, and keep your feet together.
Now come the “three points.” Twist your hips to bring your left leg underneath your body and over to the right side. Now, touch the floor with your heel. That’s a point. Bring the leg back to its original position, with your toes touching the matt. That’s your second point. Finally, bring it out to the side and touch the floor with your toe. That’s your third and final point. Repeat the entire process with your right leg. This exercise can start off with a minute and can be worked up into a longer routine.
- The Bridge
The bridge pose finds its way into many forms of exercise, and we love what it does for the core. It’s also a great stretch! To safely perform the bridge, lay on your back atop your mat. Plant your feet on the mat (with your knees pointing skywards) and keep them apart— the length of your hip. Engage your abdominal muscles, press your back deeply into the floor, and place your arms on the ground, aside your body. Pull your shoulders back into the mat, like you did with your back. Starting with your pelvis, lift your body from the mat, one vertebrae at a time, and try to get your hips as high up as possible. Now, slowly return your body back to the mat, vertebrae by vertebrae. Repeat this exercise for at least a minute, and work your way up to longer reps over time.
Is it Possible to Build a Strong Core Through Nutrition?
To strengthen your core, you will need to engage in physical activity that promotes abdominal strength. However, you can supplement your hard work by following a healthy and nutritious diet in your daily life. It may not be the force that strengthens your core, but it will most certainly help your core work show up on your body. These foods help your body to bust the extra fat that tends to stick around the abdomen, allowing your torso to attain a more toned and trim appearance as your core workouts begin to take hold.
So, what are these special foods? We love:
Not only are eggs versatile, but they are also a dream for banishing dreaded belly fat and helping you reveal the abs that lay beneath. They have an ideal amino acid balance, and contain choline, a nutrient thought to raise metabolism levels and even shut down certain genes that are responsible for retention of fat in the stomach. Also, eggs make a super fortifying breakfast, and will keep you full for ages. We also love keeping them hard-boiled and peeled in the fridge, so they’re ready to snack on in a moment’s notice.
Is it just us, or are almonds the perfect food? They’re delicious raw or toasted, sweet or salty, blended into nut butters, soaked into vegan-friendly “milk,” or just enjoyed whole. They make a satisfying snack, and go with pretty much everything— seriously, try to imagine one ingredient that would taste bad with almonds!
When it comes to shaping your torso, almonds play a pretty noble role. They actually have the ability to block the calories that you consume. Furthermore, they’re loaded with magnesium, which actually helps to strengthen those muscles you’re working on. Try throwing some toasted almonds into your next salad, use them instead of pine nuts in pesto, or even throw them into a veggie stir fry for a delicate and tasty crunch.
- Green Vegetables
The fiber in vegetables like kale, spinach or broccoli is a great tool for maintaining your figure and properly digesting food. They’re also chock full of calcium, which will do wonders for your muscles and energy levels during your training sessions. These days, one of our favorite uses for broccoli is to simply throw them on the barbecue, drizzle with a bit of extra virgin olive oil, and serve them with an (almond-based!) romesco sauce for dipping. Yum!
At Jack City Fitness, your core strength is important to us. That’s why we offer both nutritional counseling and personal fitness coaching sessions. We want to make sure that you are using your body in a way that enables you to perform at your very best— whether that means here at our gym, or whenever you need to carry out physical activity in your daily life.
When you sign up to become a partner with Jack City Fitness, we welcome you to the family by inviting you to our brand new facility for a free consultation. From there, we’ll be able to help you find the best workout routines for you— whether that means strengthening your core, gaining muscle, or training your cardiovascular system. It’s all available here— and our gym is open to you 24 hours a day, so you can work on your own schedule, not anybody else’s.
see us today— you won’t believe just how capable and strong you really are.