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HEALTHY HUSKY: Fitness: The importance of 'core' workouts

By Luke Belval
On March 28, 2014

Whenever you go to the gym you are more than likely to see the majority of individuals performing the same exercises over and over. Unfortunately, the bench press and curls will only get you so far. While following your peers can garner some results, little attention is often paid to the lifts and exercises that can improve your life and wellbeing. While no one wants to be seen doing Pilates on a mat while you could be grunting and throwing heavy weights, developing your core is a fundamental part of a healthy lifestyle.
"Core" is an ambiguous term that extends well beyond abs and obliques. All told there are over a dozen muscles, ranging from the quadratus lumborum to the erector spinae, that are responsible for the foundation of movement. In reality, training your core is teaching your body to work together. Lower back pain, shoulder pain, hip pain and many other conditions can commonly be traced back to a weak or dysfunctional core. Weakness in the foundation can lead to larger problems downstream.
While you may be sitting there thinking this means that you should be doing sit-ups until you pass out, training the core can become quite complex, challenging and sometimes fun. Some of the best training programs including Pilates and sport specific training programs use dynamic movements to train the core, especially as skill levels progress.
You may be asking yourself where to begin. The fact is when you begin training your core you must first train it to stabilize your body while it is stationary. This is where the popularity of the forearm plank, which is essentially the pushup position on your forearms, can really help get you started. By training your core to stabilize your body while its not moving, you begin to train yourself for not only more complex movements but also important items like good posture. Other examples of good beginning exercises are bird dogs and dead bugs.
When you consider yourself competent in the basic core movements, the exercises that you once were struggling to complete with proper form become even more powerful tools. With the proper core, movements like squats and deadlifts become whole body exercises, because your body knows how to function as a unit. This doesn't mean you should stop training your core, as the key to any exercise program is progressively overloading your muscles to adapt to new challenges. Ignoring your core after being able to plank for a minute may leave you in a worse place than you began.
The core is a fundamental part of any exercise program. Whether you are training to get big, look good in a bathing suit or finish a half-marathon, core training can benefit your lifestyle. And it doesn't hurt that it can help lead to a killer six pack.

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