The core of the human body is often the most neglected and weakest part. And you need more than just a couple sit ups every night to strengthen the core muscles. The core basically consists of anything from the pelvis to the scapulae. Mainly it consists of the erector spinae, pelvic floor muscles, transversus abdominis, internal and external obliques, gluteus maximus, multifidus, rectus abdominis and the diaphragm (top of the rib cage). The core is the most important part of the body for developing maximal strength and functional benefits and can be improved by just doing compound movements alone.
The core is strengthened predominantly through the overhead press, squat, deadlift and pullup. Barbell rows recruit the core muscles pretty hard too, but the main core movements are those listed above. There are various ways to work the core; the problem is everyone seems to think the core is only the rectus abdominis.
The core muscle that is often the most neglected is the lower back. Most people tend to feel a significant burn in their lower back whilst performing a heavy overhead press. Deadlifting and squatting will often strengthen the lower back, but additional stimulus can be brought upon by focusing on direct stabilization exercises like planks and hanging leg raises. The hanging leg raise can be performed without the use of a concentric contraction by simply strapping a heavy dumbell to your legs and hanging from the pullup bar isometrically for a time of around 1 minute. It will also work your grip, legs and upper back muscles.
Isometric focus on the core can be included by accessory exercises too, like performing light dumbells presses on a stability ball. Do NOT try to set personal records with barbells on the stability ball, but you can throw some stability ball exercises at the end of your workouts for the extra work.
Great guidelines is to just perform all movements that can be performed standing more frequently than those that are worked with seated. Perform your presses standing, perform your squats and deadlifts a lot during the week and if you're going to do curls and stuff do them standing too. Never do an exercise seated unless there is an injury preventing you from standing up with the movement.
Hanging leg raises, dragon flies and planks are often recruit more work for the core, but the most functional way to train your core is through isometric focused exercises.
Article Source: Work That Core!
Personal Trainer- ACE, NASM AFPA; Nutrition Consultant- AFPA
"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." - Philippians 4:13"
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