Your Core is king!

Posted by James Greenwood | 10:14 AM | View Comments

The world in which we live is all about hype. Hype about a new supplement, a new pair of running shoes or a training technique that will impact your training, and your performance forever.

As the media bombards us from all sides, there are still a few things that should never be relegated from your training program. One of them being Core stability training.

Believe it or not, all the hype around Core stability, its benefits and its importance, are actually true.

Let's keep moving forward by looking at what the core actually is.

We hear the word being tossed around pretty liberally, and it is essential to fully understand what the core actually is.

Here we go!

The Core is the blanket title given to 4 muscle groups surrounding the lower abdomen (where the corsets in the old days would have been tightened):
  • The Transverse Abdominus (TA)
  • The Internal Obliques
  • The External Obliques
  • The Multifidus.
These 4 muscles work together with only 1 purpose:

To stabilize the spine, and thus provide the rest of the body a stable platform for movements to occur safely and effectively.

Working as a single unit, these muscles function in much the same way as a weight lifters belt does - protecting and stabilizing the spine.

When talking about the muscles of the Core, we need to keep in mind that they are Postural muscles (Local stabilizers), meaning they are not there to generate large forces like the Global mover groups do (Exampl: the Quadriceps of the thigh).

Instead, they are required to be able to function for long periods of time (think about when you spend the day standing), generating small forces, keeping you up right and posturally correct.

We also mentioned that they play a crucial role in laying a stable platform for movements to occur safely and effectively.

The muscles of the core are the first to be initiated before any movement occurs. This allows the spine to be stabilized ahead of whatever movement is about to be executed.

Once stabilized, the rest of the movement can be executed optimally and to the exact specifications of the individual.

Excellent - a better understanding of what the core is and how it functions in conjunction to the rest of the body leads to the next question: Can anything be done to improve the functioning of the core musculature?

You bet, and next weeks post will answer that exact question.

James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete currently training for Ironman Canada 2009. A level 1 Triathlon Coach, he holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at, and has starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.
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