4 Things You Must Do If You Want To Have A Strong Core

Sep 27, 2022

I have a Google news alert for "core strength" because I'm always looking to see what I could be missing: a better way to teach, a better way to cue, a new insight.

Most of what I see is "10 Best Abs Exercises" and other articles telling people how to get "flat abs".  So much fluff out there that is missing the point {sigh...}!

Core strength has less to do with "abs" and EVERYTHING to do with your spine. 

Yes, it's all about the spine

Your core is a network of muscles that connects your spine to your ribcage to your pelvis.  Without it, you'd literally be a bag of bones.  Your spine holds you upright and protects your spinal cord, which connects your brain to the rest of the body. 

Your core is the critical "thing" that holds this other critical thing in place.  Your core also allows you to move your spine.  And that's what we're all about, right?

So, having a strong core means having a stable spine, but also a mobile spine.  And your spine has 4 mechanics, or directions in which it moves.  Any core strength workout needs to focus not on "abs" but on these 4 spinal mechanics (mobilizing your spine in 4 directions).

1. Flexion: forward bending of the spine.  This is where we spend most of our time because our bodies have the most range of motion here.  "Abs" exercises usually involve flexion of the spine.  Examples of flexion are:

2. Extension: backward bending of the spine.  Most people feel weak performing extension because they're not in the habit of dong it.  See #1 above.  Some examples of exercises that promote extension are:

3. Lateral Flexion (Side-bending): Just like it sounds, our spines are also designed to bend sideways.  Here are some examples of exercises involving lateral flexion:

4. Rotation.  Our spine allows us to rotate the head, ribcage, and pelvis independently of one another.  As we age, this is another spinal mechanic that deteriorates, because...see #1!  Exercises that promote rotation of the spine are:

When you only practice flexion, the spinal mechanic we already do them most, you reinforce what your spine already does pretty well, naturally.  But this leads to less mobility in the other three spinal mechanics, which in time leads to limitations in range of motion, compensation patterns, and overuse injury.

Chasing chiseled abs won't get you a strong core.  The only way to actually have a strong core is to incorporate these 4 spinal mechanics in every core strength workout.  Want to see these movements in action?  Check out the original Instagram post here.


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