When you think of abdominal workouts, you probably think of people with flat stomachs and a six-pack. But working out your abdominal muscles is so much more important than achieving a certain look. In fact, a strong core is a key to a strong body, which is why regardless of your age, you should maintain a strong core.
You may not realize it, but your core muscles play an important role in all your daily activities. From bending and getting up to basically all other movements, your ab muscles are working to keep you stable.
Your abs are composed of layers of muscles, with the deepest layer being the transverse abdominis, which is responsible for stabilizing the spine. On top of that are another two layers which control rotation and other spinal movements. Lastly, the topmost muscle — rectus abdominis — helps with forward motions like crunches. These are the muscles you see in a six-pack.
Your whole core has more muscles involved including the pelvic floor muscles, back muscles, and the diaphragm.
Your core can be compared to that of a tree trunk. If a tree trunk is weak or damaged, then it can’t support the rest of the tree. If your core is weak, you may experience problems with other body parts and movements.
Personal trainer Meredith McHale explained, “Typically, the core muscles fire or activate prior to us doing an activity. Our nervous system anticipates the activity, and braces for support, really, when we go to do anything. If you don’t have that core stability and support acting as a brace or a girdle for your spine, you’re likely going to compensate with other muscles.”
Strength coach Mike Boyle added, “A weak core is the number-one risk for potential injuries, especially lower-back injuries.”
“While back injuries are very common with a weak core, you can also injure other parts of your body as a result, like your shoulders, hips, and knees,” McHale continued.
Before you can build strength anywhere else in the body, you need proper core strength, as your core plays a big role in all types of movement.
The key, though, is to ensure you are properly engaging your core not only to maintain a strong core, but to properly perform other movements too.
To do this, you can use a guide like a fitness instructor or physiotherapist to teach you how to properly engage your core. Often, it is as easy as trying to pull your belly button towards the spine. You can even place your hand on your abdomen to feel your muscles are engaged.
You will find that with a strong core, you are more stable, and your range of motion is improved, which is important to maintain as you age.
Abs are so much more than something physical. They have a real purpose in your daily life and ensuring you are taking the time to keep them strong is vital.