Are you aware of how many movements require a strong core? Almost all of them! Yes of course we perform exercises that are core or ab specific; however, having an activated core while performing strength and cardio exercises is extremely important. In this blog, I want to walk you through why it's so important to have a strong core and what I incorporate in my warm-up routine to activate my abdominal muscles.
Back in high school when my love of running included weekly races, an official coach, and a regular training schedule, core strength was a top priority. At the time I HATED it, especially when a teammate was caught doing something wrong and the whole team had to start the circuit over. It was almost used as punishment when really it was a vital part of being a strong runner and athlete. Today, I fully recognize how important core strength is and it doesn't have anything to do with"having abs" and it's not specific to athletes. We ALL have "abs" or abdominal muscles. Core strength is the basis of all of our movements, without it we are putting ourselves at risk for injury, cramping, and soreness.
One of the most common areas for pain and discomfort in all age groups is the lower back. There are various factors that play into this phenomenon, such as sitting for long periods of time, poor posture, and improper lifting of heavy objects. However, knowing how to activate your core abdominal muscles will help in tremendous ways!
One of the things I have learned over the years is that having a flat stomach is not equivalent to a strong core and the latter of which is more important.
Our goal should not be to have the 6-pack look or a flat tummy, but to have a strong core so that we can perform movements with control and coordination. The exercise list below will help you activate your abdominal muscles before beginning your workout. By performing these different types of crunches, you won't have instant core strength, but it will help "wake up" your core so that it can engage properly through any resistance or cardio training you have planned for the day. Think of it as a warm-up specifically for your abdomen. If they start to feel easy you can always increase reps or find yourself some other great core exercises, there are tons out there that you can try!
CORE ACTIVATION - CRUNCHES CIRCUIT*
Straight Leg Crunches x 25
Bent Leg Crunches x 25
90 Degree Crunches x 25
Toe Touch Crunches x 25
Reverse Crunches x 25
Side (Oblique) Crunches x 25/25
*You have probably performed some if not all of these different types of crunches before, especially if you have attended a group fitness with me. If you haven't, there are numerous youtube videos out there demonstrating how to properly perform each of these.