Core training: the forgotten core exercises
Core training has been a popular fitness concept pretty much forever. You find it in fitness classes, personal training sessions, dance training and sports performance. It's also all over social media. There are millions of reels and posts across all platforms on "how to get flat abs" and "core exercises for weight loss".
But most of the content is missing half the core muscles! Most of the time, the posts only include abdominal exercises. Yet the core is made up of ALL the muscles of the trunk. Not just the abdominals! These posts are not only deceiving, but potentially dangerous. Only training the abdominals and neglecting the back muscles will create muscle imbalances which lead to poor posture and alignment and can lead to injuries.
Let's look at the core and then provide you with some exercises to counter balance all that abdominal training.
The core: is the name for the muscles of the trunk. These muscles move, support and stabilize the spine.
(notice the word spine)
Next let's look at the actions of the core and the muscles that produce those actions:
- Flexion of the trunk: Rectus abdominis
- Extension of the trunk: Erector spinae and quadratus lumborum
- Rotation of the trunk: Internal and external obliques
- Lateral flexion of the trunk: The obliques, rectus abdominis, quadratus lumborum and the errector spinae
- Stability of the trunk: Transverse abdominis, Internal and external obliques, pelvic floor group, diaphragm, quadratus lumborum and multifidus.
Notice how important the spine muscles are to the core! Yet exercises to strengthen them are routinely left out of "core training" on social media!
If you've ever taken a Pilates class, or taught one, you'll know that there is a lot of flipping around from a supine position to a prone position to a lateral position. That is because Pilates does a great job of trying to target ALL core muscles. I've actually had participants complain of all the position switching, which provided a great opportunity to explain the importance of training the entire core muscle group.
As flexibility specialists, we at Extensa create programs that keep the body balanced. We will sometimes focus on a certain area, for example: releasing the hips. But the rest of the routine targets the entire body.
As fitness professionals it's extremely important to provide your participants with accurate information, even if it's not what is "trending" on social media. Your participants will have deeper respect for you if you provide them accurate information that contributes to better health, rather than how popular you are on social media.
Here are 3 spine exercises to counter balance all those abdominal exercises you've been doing from "core training" social media posts:
Locust (or basic back extension): Lying prone, engage the abdominals and glutes. Lift the arms off the ground with the palms facing the mat and slide the shoulder blades down the spine. Lift the upper body off the ground keeping the cervical spine in a neutral position. Option to lift the legs. Hold the position and then release. Repeat 6-8 times.
Shoulder blade squeeze: In a modified (knees on the floor) or full plank position (image demo), bring the shoulder blades towards each other and then separate them as much as possible. Repeat 12-16 times.
Cobra: Lying prone, separate the legs slightly larger than hip width apart. Place the hands on the mat beside your ribcage. Roll the shoulders back and gently lift the upper body up. Press the palms into the mat and continue to extend the spine. Lengthen through the lower back. And slowly release to the floor. Repeat 1-4 times.
Video version via TikTok:
@extensamethod We tend to forget that #coretraining also involves back exercises. Not just abdominal exercises!! Don’t neglect your entire core! #core #coreexercises #coreexercise #backtraining #spinehealth #howtostretch #fitnessforbeginners #beginnerfitness #groupfitnessinstructor ♬ Clean, motivational, positive corporate music - 3KTrack