"Engage your core", "Use your core", "move from your core". If you engage in any fitness activity, particularly ones guided by an instructor/teacher, you have heard these cues a bazillion times! But have you ever found yourself thinking "what on earth are you talking about"?
I'm sure you've received the memo by now that your core is not just your abdominal muscles. Your abdominals are one of the structures that make up your core but the story doesn't end there. In the most basic terms, your Core encompasses every muscle from the top of your ribcage to the entire hip structure. That means back muscles, obliques, abdominals, glutes, hip flexors, hamstring origin, a lot of 'stuff' right?
So you may be able to understand just how important it is to stop responding to the cue of "use your core" by contracting your abdominals. Not making use of the other huge muscles within this region to help you twist, bend, jump, balance, lift, push, pull will not only give you a lot less power and stability in your movements, it may also lead to injury as you overload relatively small muscles with big tasks.
Next time you are exercising and a core cue comes up, really connect to that entire torso area and, contracting those muscles, see how much stronger, more powerful and more stable your movements become.
And, as you may now understand and not to burst your bubble, but just because you have visible abs does not mean that you have a strong core! The lesson? Less isolated abdominal exercises and more work that calls on the entire core musculature.
Great Core Exercises:
*Plank and all it's variations
*Single leg balance work
*Push ups and all their variations
*Twists and Rotations
*Pulling and Pushing movements
Crunches are out, creativity is in! Core work really is fun and it's very gratifying to know that the fit body you have worked so hard for actually is as strong as it looks.