The Importance of Building a Strong Core
You may have heard that building a strong core is important to your overall health. Did you know that a strong core is about more than having six-pack abs? In fact, you can have a strong core muscles without ever developing six-pack abs; a lot of that particular task has to do with your nutrition habits as much as your training) and having visible abs doesn't necessarily mean you have a strong core.
So, why is it important to have a strong core? And how can you go about building a strong core? Here's a hint: it's not about doing a million crunches. Read on to find out everything you need to know about core strength and how it will help you both in and out of the ring.
Understanding the Core
Before you start looking for ab exercises, take a minute to learn about what the core really consists of. This will give you a better idea of why core strengthening exercises are so important, and how it plays into working other muscle groups as well.
Your main core muscles consist of:
- Internal and external obliques - your internal and external obliques play key roles in trunk rotation and bending. The internal obliques also play a key role in your breathing, and building intra-abdominal pressure.
- Rectus abdominis - this muscle makes up the bumps you associate with six-pack abs, at the front of your abdomen. Your rectus abdominis plays a key role in curving and tilting your spine and pelvis, respectively.
- Erector spinae - this important muscle group travels along the length of the spine. The erector spinae plays a key role in keeping good posture, and allows for proper flexion in the spine.
- Transverse abdominis - the transverse abdominis runs vertically along the side of your abdomen and plays a key role in protecting your organs, and stabilizing your spine and pelvis during movement through core activation.
As you can see, the core is more than just your abs. However, it's important to know that there are other muscles that work with your main core muscles as well, such as your diaphragm, pelvic floor, pectoral muscles and lats, glutes and hip flexors. Everything in your body is interconnected, so a strong core goes beyond your torso.
Why is it Important to Have a Strong Core?
Your core strength plays into various aspects of your daily life, whether you're sitting at your desk working or trying to squat a new PR at the gym, doing chores around the house or shadowboxing in the mirror and listening to your favorite tunes when you should be doing chores around the house instead.
Some of the key benefits of core strength are:
- Reducing back pain - low back pain may seem like one of the inevitable downfalls of getting older, but it's something of an epidemic. It's estimated that 80% of adults will experience low back pain at some point in their life, and it's the number one caused for missed work in America.
- Injury prevention - not only do your core muscles support your spine, promote good posture, and help you breather, but they also keep you safe from harm. On the one hand, they protect your internal organs. On the other, they provide the support and stability your spine needs to stay healthy, especially during load-bearing exercises.
- Proper Breathing - a strong core will allow you to breathe properly, especially during training. The ability to take deep breaths provides more oxygen to your tired muscles, aiding with recovery, endurance, and cardiovascular health.
- Gaining strength and confidence - when you have a strong core, you start to feel better. You're able to build upon a strong foundation to become faster, stronger, and more confident.
Best Exercises for Core Strength and Stability
Building a strong core is very important when it comes to exercising, everyday living, and better posture, as it ensures improved balance and support. There are multiple effective exercises that can help you build up your core strength in a short amount of time. And guess what? Crunches didn't make the list.
Some of the best core strength training exercises include:
- Beast Crawls
While there are many other core exercises to try, these three are tried and true Gloveworx coach favorites. Read on to find out how to incorporate them into your next training session.
Plank Exercises for Core Strength
This is one of the most beginner-friendly core training movements to start to correct weak core muscles. The basic plank position is a push-up position using your forearms and elbows instead of your hands. You balance your weight evenly throughout your body with your feet and elbows/forearms as the pillars of support. In this position, tighten your core to keep your body in a straight line.
The back of your head should align with your buttocks and your legs must also be straight. Remember to focus on taking deep breaths while you are in this position. To truly own the position, you must be able to hold this position while breathing normally.
The plank is an exercise for your core that’s designed to increase stability and allow force to transfer efficiently from the ground through your shoulder, elbow, and hand into your opponent—whether it’s a bag, mitt, or person. This stability is foundational to being able to punch hard, and it’s one of the most important reasons why plank exercises for core strength are essential to boxers.
Beast Crawl Exercises
The basic beast crawl position is on all fours (quadruped position)—hands and feet planted on the ground. The goal of this exercise is to build four pillar strength through the hips and shoulders. Make sure your arms are slightly bent, hands are directly beneath your shoulders, knees are directly under your hips, and the back of your head and butt are aligned. Keep your pelvis tilted, maintaining a straight back. With this exercise, you can hold your position or challenge yourself by crawling back and forth.
When you’re holding your position during the beast crawl exercise, you are engaging your core and abdominal muscles in the same way you did for your plank core exercises. The progression to crawling also engages anti-rotational core strength as you move contralaterally (opposite arm and opposite leg).
By engaging your muscles in these patterns, you are helping to build abdominal strength with the same actions that are required when you punch straight ahead (jab) or across the body (straight right hand).
Superman Core Workout
The basic superman core workout starts flat on the ground, face down in a prone position. Then, you simultaneously lift your head, arms, and legs—engaging your core, arching your mid-back, and balancing on your abdomen. You hold this strengthening position for several seconds as you try to keep your breathing even and normal.
Spinal extension is important in boxing when performing defensive movements, like pull counters. A superman core workout helps to develop the muscles that are key to these movements, supporting the muscles of the lower back.
Core Workouts at Gloveworx
Exercises for a strong core that challenge your stability, rotation and flexion/extension are all important to developing functional movement in everyday life, as well as efficient boxing technique.
There are many other exercises you can perform to help you build and strengthen your core, so stay tuned to the Gloveworx blog to learn more about core strength and functional movement!
Feeling ready to start strengthening your core? Come to a Gloveworx session. We love finishing with a killer core workout.