Weavers Way Workshop:
SUNDAY, JULY 22, noon-2 p.m.
7101 Emlen St.
Strength, stamina, and more — it starts with your core!
Join Crystal Widmann from Y2B Fit to learn how to tap into the potential of your core to improve overall strength, balance and stability. Learn and practice exercises that specifically target the deep core muscles, helping you to strengthen your body from the inside out. Please wear comfortable exercise clothing!
FREE. For more info and to RSVP, visit www.weaversway.coop/core.
When we think about core workouts, what first comes to mind is usually crunches and six-pack abs. But there’s so much more to a strong core than repetitive exercises that cause exterior muscle definition! A strong core means more balance and stability when doing things like walking or climbing a ladder. The muscles of the core prevent injury when you do things like bending, twisting or lifting heavy objects. They support the spine and play a major role in decreasing lower back pain.
It’s true — a strong core helps with all of these things and so much more.
Let’s take a closer look. We’re conditioned to think of the core as the six-pack muscles (real name: rectus abdominus) that are the most superficial muscles of the abdomen. While they are part of the core, they’re just a small part. The core is actually made up of four layers of abdominal muscles, plus the hip flexors, the glutes and the spinal stabilizers.
All of these muscles work together to support your spine, pelvis and rib cage. Working just one of these muscle sets will cause imbalances; working all of the core muscles together can improve strength and stability in the spine while also increasing stamina when you perform exercises involving the arm and leg muscles.
Here’s an interesting fact: Although you might assume that someone with a well-defined six-pack has a strong core, this isn’t necessarily true. Definition in one muscle set that works as part of a group could be an indication of an imbalance in the core. If you’re only working one muscle set in isolation through an exercise like crunches and ignoring the other muscles that work with that set (such as the obliques, transverse abdominus and erector spinae), you could actually be doing more harm than good. Muscle imbalances contribute to reduced stability, more injury and lower back pain. Bottom line: Just because someone looks strong doesn’t mean their body is balanced.
So what’s a good way to work the core? Functional core training uses exercises focused mainly on using your own body weight to work the whole core muscle group. These exercises improve balance and stability while preventing injury.
A great starting point is to do the forearm plank and the forearm side plank, holding each position for up to 30 seconds or longer. Plank variations engage the transverse (deep) abdominal muscles and obliques, along with the glutes and hip muscles, while being stabilized by the quads and hamstrings. If holding a plank is difficult for you, there are many modifications such as placing the knees on the floor or planking at the wall. As you get stronger, there are endless variations to increase the intensity of your plank.
Crystal Widmann is an expert in functional fitness training and many years of experience training clients to find strength through connecting with their core. She owns Y2B Fit, a yoga and barre fitness studio in Mt Airy.