Today I’m introducing a new weekly series, Training Tip Tuesday. Each week I will focus on a different aspect of training – strength, cardio, flexibility, balance, etc.
Today’s Training Tip
Engage your core!
What Makes Up the Core
Your core is basically your trunk, or the area between the top of the rib cage and the inguinal fold, and expands from the belly to the back. It’s made up of a lot more muscles than the well known rectus abdominis, transversus abdominis, obliques, and erector spinae. As important as those large muscle groups are, much smaller and less commonly known muscles such as the multifidus are equally important in supporting the spine.
What is the Core’s Main Function
The main functions of the core are to protect and assist the spine while stabilizing the upper and lower body. A strong core is a key component of injury prevention not only during athletics, but during daily life.
How to Engage the Core
It’s easy to slouch when standing or sitting, and simply focusing on good posture is the first step toward engaging the core. While in that good posture position, isometrically contract (contract without moving) your core muscles. Think of it as giving your spine a hug.
While training clients, I am constantly reminding them to engage their core. Some of the key phrases I use are…
- • Stand or sit tall
- • Pull your belly button to your spine
- • Hug your spine with your muscles
- • Don’t forget to breath
Speak Peek to Next Week
Once it becomes second nature to engage the core, there are simple changes that can be made to bring the core into most any strength training exercise. Next Tuesday I will expand on strengthening the core through engagement when it might otherwise be ignored.
- • Do you engage your core naturally or do you need to remind yourself?
- • Do you do core specific exercise or work the core while doing other exercises? ~ Next week I’ll focus on how to change up simple exercise to bring the core into play.
- • What other training tips would you like for me to cover?
I always need to remind myself to engage the core. I need to do some balancing exercises for my Achilles and it definitely helps if I engage the abs!
How to do a perfect push-up would be a good topic!
I’ll put push-ups on the tips list!
This is a great idea for a post.
I’m guilty of not paying attention to my core.
Thanks for the reminder.
Thanks, Darlene! I think we’re all guilty of neglecting our core from time to time.
I am trying to make a more conscious effort to stand tall. Being a tall gal, it’s “natural” to slouch a bit because it seems like almost everyone else is shorter than me, LOL. I also try to make a conscious effort to engage my core throughout the day…not sure if it comes naturally for me or not (yet) when I’m not thinking about it or doing a workout (?).
Excellent point (and oh to have that problem 😉 ) – I see a couple of my other tall friends do the same thing and have wondered if they even realize they’re leaning down toward us shorter gals.
I’ve been going to Pilates for this specific reason. A strong core is the foundation for everything else and I have neglected it for so long. Great post!
Good for you! Pilates is excellent for strengthening the core.
Very excited for this new series! Since I sit a lot for my job, I always try to remind myself to sit up tall to help with my posture and engage my core.
Many years ago my old trainer said to me,”every exercise is a core exercise if you do it right”. It took me years to figure this out and implement it into my workouts. Looking forward to your new series
That’s excellent that you’re implementing engaging the core into your workouts.
This will be a good series. Earlier this year, I asked my strength coach to incorporate more core work into our sessions and I am noticing the difference! The core is the one area I don’t like to work, lol.
It’s great that you’re incorporating more core work into your workouts. I’m glad you’re looking forward to the series.
I go through fits and starts with focusing on my core – I know I would benefit from more consistent work. I look forward to more from your new series!
Awesome, I hope to bring some useful tips your way.
I really work hard to keep my posture super straight, which I know is great for the core. I’m constantly nagging the boys to sit and stand up and not slouch. It’s amazing how much better it feels.
Isn’t it amazing how much better you feel?
The Peloton instructors are really good about reminding you to engage your core in every activity, and it does make a surprising difference.
It all starts with a strong foundation!
Exactly, it all starts with a strong foundation!
What a lovely new series! I’ll make sure to follow.
I do a lot of core work in the gym but also at home with planks, push-ups, glute bridges, leg raises and more, but I also engage the core in many other exercises.
Since I started strength training, my posture is much improved and it’s like it’s easier and more natural to stand straight.
Thanks, Susanne, I look forward to having you follow along.
I love this! Thanks so much. I am sure it will help many of us. I am not good AT ALL about engaging my core. I chuckled when I read your instructions. I mean, so easy to do but yet I still don’t do it. So my question now is how often does it need to be done?
I do core specific exercises 3 times a week as part of my strength training routine. I consciously engage my core whenever I think of it. For example, while standing and training clients, I might hold my bellybutton to my spine for 20 seconds several times a day. While typing this reply, I sat a little taller and hugged my spine with the surrounding muscles (so thanks for the reminder 😉 ).
Oooh looking forward to this series as my form is.. not ideal.
That’s great! I’ll add running form to my list of training tips.
One of the Peloton instructors reminds us to “bring your butt with you”. Like the light sabers tip I got years ago, I try to use the image to make it work.
What a great new series! I was slouching as I read this and as I progressed had to remind myself to sit up! I’d love to work on my core this year – when I was doing pilates, I had a much stronger core but have felt it disappear they last couple of years.
Pilates exercises are great for strengthening the core.
Great tips on engaging your core during workouts! Keep sharing these valuable tips and helping us to achieve our fitness goals.