A strong core is always a benefit, no matter what your fitness goals are or what fitness level you are at. And even though, as they say, aesthetic Instagram-worthy abs are made in the kitchen, the key to strong abs lies in progressive core training. A core training program needs to help you to build a strong foundation and then build on that foundation to increase strength and definition. So, why does a progressive core training program work?
Why is core training important?
There are three major benefits to having a strong core; posture and balance, athletic performance, and injury prevention.
Improving your balance and posture is very important, particularly as many of us live very sedentary lives. By strengthening your core, you will have the ability to carry yourself with a better posture throughout your day-to-day life as well as during exercise.
Increasing core strength can also improve your athletic performance. You might have heard before how important core strength is, regardless of what exercise you do, and everyone who says this is correct! Your core connects your upper to your lower body and a weak core weakens your body overall. By building a strong core, you increase your ability to lift heavier weights, move faster and stronger, improve your reaction times, and perform exercises with greater control.
A strong core will also help you to avoid injury. By improving your body’s ability to hold positions and bettering your ability to support your body weight, you are less likely to fall or injure yourself. You are also able to stop the overextension of other muscles in the body, which can occur when your abs are not strong enough to support certain exercises (particularly heavyweights); therefore leaving the other muscles in your body to compensate.
Progressive Core Training
Now that we understand why progressive core training is important, we can look at a few examples of core strengthening exercises that will help you to develop a strong core:
Weighted Forearm Plank
This exercise takes a standard forearm plank and adds another level of strength training. Essentially perform a forearm plant, weighting yourself on your forearms (hands palm-down, elbows under shoulders) and toes. Keep your back straight, forming a line from your neck to your lower spine. Have a partner place a weight (e.g. a circular weight) on your back and hold the position for 30 seconds. You can also start on your knees, placing the weight yourself, before moving to the plank position.
This exercise involves dynamic movement that forces you to control your core to hold your position stable. Begin on your hands and knees. Your hands must be under shoulders with your knees under your hips. Holding in your core lift your right arm and left leg off the ground, reaching them out until these are parallel to the ground. Controlling your abdominal muscles, retract your limbs back to the starting position before repeating with the other arm and leg.
Progression is a vital concept that every personal trainer needs to master. Find out what other concepts they need to master on our Personal Training Diploma. Follow this link to find out more.