A common mistake people often make when starting out with resistance training and toning their physique is to focus purely on the aesthetics instead of working at cultivating balance and strength. Sure, it looks great having well defined abs, however if you spend all your time doing sit ups and nothing else, you could be affecting your posture and even be putting your back at risk.
Working on your ‘core’ should incorporate all the main muscles that comprise the torso. These include:
- Rectus abdominus - These are also referred to as your ‘abs’ and are a flat band of muscles that stretch from your sternum to your pelvis.
- Internal obliques - These muscles connect from your lower ribs down into the pelvic iliac crest.
- External obliques - These muscles run diagonally from your lower ribs into your iliac crest.
- Transverse abdominus - This is the strip of muscle that stretches from your lumbar region to your pubic bone.
- Latissimus dorsi - Connects from the lower spine along the lower back and into the lower ribs.
- Trapezius - These muscles are triangular shaped and stretch from the spine into the mid back and across to the shoulders.
When it comes to stability of your spine, and where the majority of your strength and movement originates, the internal and external obliques play a leading role. So utilizing exercises that incorporate these muscles will help promote more balance and stability in your overall core.
Some excellent exercises that focus on the whole core, or several different areas at once include:
- Side plank
- V-sit ups
- Kettlebell swing
- Slam ball throws
- Bicycle crunches
So remember to look after your whole core when you are creating your workout. Aesthetics are great, but strength and balance is much more important for your overall health.