The Core of the Core

 thCAYICAA1The core is a focus area for many exercise programs. Let’s chat about how to keep it efficient and effective. 

First of all – remember that spot reducing is a myth! No matter how many crunches and planks you do, you will not burn more fat in your abdomen area.

What does come close to spot reducing cardiovascular exercise.  During cardio, the body uses more intra-abdominal fat – the fat that is closest to the organs of the abdomen. This is great news! These fat cells are very active in promoting inflammation and disease – so keep the cardio going to reduce this hazardous type body fat.  

Beyond that though – more core work does not mean less fat around your middle. Please consider this if you spend a good portion of your exercise time on your abs/core… ask yourself why am I doing this? Is it myth or science based?

The core is a term used for all that is in the middle of the body – the abdomen, sides and back. There are several very important muscles here.   The core is there for function. It holds the body together and protects some REALLY important parts of the body – the spine and the organs. If it didn’t have to be so flexible to allow us to move it would probably be a bone – like our ribcage that protects our heart and lungs. The network of muscles is designed for stability with flexibility.

The key muscle for stability is the Transverse Abdominal (TA) muscle. It is like a corset – wraps around from the spine to the front of the belly.  It supports the neutral alignment of the spine.  It is designed like a lifting belt – the key is turning it on when we need it.

Certain exercises, like planks, strengthen the TA.     However, being able to consciously turn on this muscle when we are upright and using our arms and legs is where we gain the most function.  We need to train our brain to activate this muscle while lifting, carrying, lifting overhead, etc.   thCATHTMRG

Some core exercises can cause more harm than good. See this video about why crunches don’t work. If you are interested in their Core Foundations program we do offer a discount for weight center patients.   It a well designed program for those with diastasis recti, hernia, and back pain.

It is difficult to teach the proper way to use this muscle in writing. If you are a weight center patient, schedule an appointment with me to learn it in person.

Click here is a video that does a nice job of explaining how the ribs are a key part of core health and function and how to start working the TA.

The big message here is

  • Spot reducing is a myth.  Extra core work is not the answer to extra weight around the middle – regular exercise and managing food intake for general weight loss is the key
  • The purpose of core exercises is to maximize function and stability in this area to protect the spine and organs.
  • Some core exercises can harm the core muscles and the structure of the spine, especially if you have a weakness in this area.
  • Proper alignment of your skeleton is important for best function of core muscles. The positioning of your joints – especially your hips and ribs makes a big difference on function and reducing injury during any activity.
  • The best way to train the core for function is to activate it consciously in an upright position – and practice using it during daily activities.

Here is an article that is also helpful.

Please share and questions or comments you might have.   

Keep Moving, Be Well



by | April 6, 2015 · 1:47 pm

2 responses to “The Core of the Core

  1. Jessica Marino

    Just starting alot of core work at Physical therapy. I also just invested in a stability ball for home exercise and to help with posture. Being someone who suffers from chronic back pain, core strength is vital to my recovery.


  2. Pingback: Myth #5: Core Strength | Keep Moving Weekly

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