The abs workout is something rather old hat now, and the new fitness mantra that all the experts are extolling the virtues of is the Core Workout Routine. This is because a core workout is what helps to strengthen and reinforce the center of the body that houses the most important organs; the core that gives stability, balance and definition to the rest of the body.
A core workout routine is more comprehensive, since it helps to target not just the ab muscles but also the muscles along the spinal column, the transverse abdominis muscles as well as the obliques which run along the sides of the waist (what we colloquially call the love handles).
In addition, muscles like the multifidus, which helps extend and rotate the spine, the hip flexors, (in front of the pelvis and upper thighs), the hip adductors and the muscles at the sides of the hips, and upper thighs are also engaged.
So a good core workout will give you that enviable six-pack but as well it will engage many more muscles than the ab workout and is comprehensive in a way that will help the body in several ways.
- Developing and strengthening the muscles of the core helps improve reaction time, and helps the body to absorb and distribute shock and stress evenly and effectively.
- The body is better coordinated, more agile and powerful with the help of a good core workout routine.
- Athletes, weight lifters and others who are dependent upon core strength greatly benefit form core workouts.
- The body gains better flexibility due to a strong core.
- A strong core means strong ab and back muscles to help avoid injury and protect the spine and the back from aches and pains.
- One’s posture improves as the torso becomes stronger, slimmer and more erect, enhancing confidence as well.
- Core fitness enhances energy levels and makes you more able to work out, leading to long term fitness.
- Functional fitness, which helps the body function on a day to day basis improves with core strength.
A Sports medicine expert recommends that the following exercises should form part of a good core workout routine.
The Plank requires you to place your weight on your elbows and your toes with only these touching the ground and the rest of the body is in a plank position. Then lift one arm out in front and alternate to increase intensity.
The side plank requires you to be on your side, with one foot and one elbow touching the ground, holding the position for up to a minute and then reversing sides. It’s more difficult that it sounds.
The V-sit Abdominal Exercise involves sitting in a V-shaped position with the butt resting on the ground with the arms reaching for the feet.
The Bicycle crunch where the right elbow reaches for the left knee and vice versa, the hip bridge exercise, the push up lat row, and the twisting skip should also be part of your core workout routine.