Key exercises to develop a strong core - but what is the "core"?

August 15, 2018

An effective strength training programme invariably will consist of an upper and lower split, intertwined with core strengthening exercises and other accessory exercises. The term “core” is used loosely to describe a group of muscles that make up the mid section of the human body. It is important to differentiate between these muscles and their actions to put together exercises that effectively train the core musculature to play their vital role in the human body



Rectus Abdominis – Allows you to bend forward or flex your spine.


Transverse Abdominis  - The deepest muscle of the abdominal musculature which increase intra-abdominal pressure and assists in drawing our abdominals towards our spine


Erector Spinae – The extensors of the back which run longitudinally along the spine. Allows you to extend your spine backwards as well as assisting in the controlled action of bending forward.


Obliques – Allows you to bend from side to side and assisting our trunk to rotate.


Multifidis - The deepest layer of the paraspinal muscles and has a key role in vertebral stability.



With the anatomy of the core musculature defined, the following exercises look to engage and strengthen each muscle - 


1) Plank





2) Bear Crawl





3) Bird Dog Exercise







4) Side Plank





5) Swimmers Extension





Two papers which I found were a useful resource that look to debunk the myths on core training and provide research based advice on exercises prescription are -


Contreas B, Schoenfeld B. "To Crunch or Not to Crunch : An Evidence Based Examination of Spinal Flexion Exercises, Their Potential Risks, and Their Applicability to Program Design" Auckland University of Tech Lib 2011:Vol 33:No 4


Standaert CJ, Herring SA. "Expert Opinion and Controversies in Musculoskeletal and Sports Medicine: Core Stabilisation as a Treatment for Low Back Pain" Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2007;88:1734-6




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