Core stability, which is currently very fashionable in all sports, is based on the notion of stabilising the core or centre of the body. Core strength allows for optimum transmission of power to the body's extremities. Learn how to perform this muscle strengthening exercise and why it is effective.
What is core stability?
Core stability exercises are a type of muscle strengthening exercise, suitable for athletes and sportsmen of all abilities, which are easily incorporated into any training programme. The most common exercises of this type include: push-ups, abdominal exercises, squats and pull-ups. Core strengthening exercises offer an excellent alternative to classic abdominal exercises; they consist of holding a contracted pose (isometric), as long as possible to strengthen a particular muscle or muscle group. To make these movements effective, you need to aim for high levels of muscle fatigue.
What are they it for?
Core stability exercises engage most of the trunk muscles and help you strengthen both the superficial and deep abdominal muscles (rectus abdominus, transverse and obliques). They protect the intervertebral discs by helping to tone the back (paralumbar muscles). They also help improve sporting performance by allowing the transfer of momentum between the upper and lower body. After all, there's no point having a well-developed muscular upper and lower body if the central section is incapable of forming a strong "bridge." A muscular core provides you with greater strength to perform everyday actions or sporting movements.
How can you test your core strength?
To assess your muscle tone, try this simple test. Take up a plank or push-up position, leaning on your forearms and not your hands. Keep your body properly aligned and don't dip your back. Tense your abs to lock your torso into position. Then hold this pose for as long as possible. Stop once your hips start to dip or your knees touch the ground. Then, evaluate the level of your core strength:
less than 30 seconds: poor core strength
between 30 seconds and 1 minute: average core strength
between 1-2 minutes: good core strength
more than 2 minutes: excellent core strength
Improving your core strength
If you think that your core strength is rather poor, try to improve your score by continuing with these exercises. Exercise twice a week, preferably in the morning; start by completing 3 sets of isometric contractions (static position), holding the position for one minute with 30 seconds recovery time between each set. Repeat the same plank exercise.
At the end of the session, you can add a few variants. Increase the degree of instability by holding the position on a medicine ball or a Domyos Gain Ball. These two muscle-strengthening accessories make the exercise more effective as they force the muscles to work harder. To make the movement more difficult, reduce the support provided by feet and upper limbs. Assume the raised push-up position, but with only two contact points for support. Lift the left arm and right leg, aligning them with the back. Hold then repeat on the other side.
In order to make progress, you must always remember to allow recovery time between training sessions. This is essential for muscle building. Gradually increase your core stability exercises and remember the importance of regular workouts. It's better to stick to 1 core stability session once a week for a year, than to do 4 sessions a week and then stop after one month. Of course, there are a variety of core stability exercises. In order to continue to make progress in the long-term, you need to vary your training.
You are now familiar with the considerable benefits of core stability exercises. These exercises, which are effective in all respects, help improve tone for enhanced propulsion and balance in motion. They will also help you to avoid potential back problems.