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Importance Of Core Muscles

Core strength is vital for overall strength and stability. In fact, the core muscle group is probably the most important in terms of body stability. They help support your spine, acting as an anchor for surrounding muscles, and having good core strength will significantly improve your work out sessions, while making strength training safer all around.

Good workout gear will also enhance your workout, offering comfort, unrestricted motion, durability and protection; all things that are needed for a successful core workout. There are four main muscles in the core muscle group. These are the rectus abdominus, transverse abdominus and the internal and external obliques. Each have their own specific action and workout requirements.


Rectus Abdominus


This is the muscle that gives you that six pack look. But aside from being aesthetically pleasing when toned, the main action of the rectus abdominus is forward flexion of the spine, thus making crunches and sit-ups two of the best exercises to use for gaining rectus abdominal strength.


Transverse Abdominus


The transverse abdominus is the deepest layer of the abdominal muscle group and though it is the most important, it is often overlooked in favour of toning the rectus abdominus.

A strong transverse abdominus will drastically improve your stability and lumber/pelvis support, offering vital support to the spine during arm and leg movements. Ignoring the transverse abdominus in your core strengthening routine can lead to a bulging abdominal wall, pelvic rotation and an inward curvature of the spine.

To strengthen the transverse abdominus the exercises to use are planks, bicycle crunches and sit-ups. Always make sure you have your transverse abdominus muscle engaged when performing these exercises.

A good way to practice engaging this muscle is to lie on the floor with your fingertips pressed to your belly just on the inside of your pelvic bones. Then, contract your abdomen, as though you are trying to draw your abdominal muscles towards your spine. You will feel the muscles beneath your fingertips contract if you are performing the exercise correctly. If you have an anterior tilt, you may notice this simple technique flattens your lower back against the floor. Don’t forget to keep your breathing steady as you contract your muscles.


Internal Obliques


These muscles are situated on both the left and right side of your trunk. Their main function is to aid same side rotation and side to side bending of the spine.

For example, the right internal oblique helps you turn right, and the left internal oblique helps you turn left.

The best exercise to strengthen the internal obliques is the side plank. You can vary the intensity of the side plank by keeping the knees in a bent position on the ground for beginners, and moving up to holding the side plank while raising and lowering the top leg. Resisted rotation using a yoga band is another good exercise to target the obliques.


External Obliques


External obliques function much the same as the internal obliques. However, where internal obliques are same side rotators, external obliques are opposite side rotators.

For example, while your right internal oblique is helping you turn right, the left external oblique is assisting. Exercises to strengthen the internal obliques – side planks and resisted rotation – will work in tandem to exercise the external obliques. It’s easy to see why the core muscle group - and keeping it strong - is so important.

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