The Core Muscles
“Tighten your core” is a phrase we hear or see these days. However, your core muscles are a lot more than your abdominals and tight belly.
Your core muscles are a group of 35+ muscles that connect your spine to your pelvis and legs. Some of the main muscles groups are your back (latissimus dorsi and erector spinae), your abdominals (obliques, rectus abdominus, and transverse abdominus) and your hips (gluteus maximus, minimus, and medius). These muscles are at the center of your body (your core) and are the reason you can stand, sit, etc. Without these muscles, you would not be able to stand straight up or take a step forward.
Your core is a stabilizer and helps transfer your weight, instead of a prime mover. However, many people train the core as a prime mover doing specific exercises like sit-ups or back extensions. By training that way, people miss out on the functional ability of the core as well as limit their motion, flexibility, and longevity of a healthy body. Below are some exercises for the core that will help maintain spine alignment and strength:
Deadlift: Starting in a set position with feet under hips and knees only slightly bent, having 2 medium size dumbbells in the hands. Hinging at the hips to bend forward while sending the hips back, reach to the knees with the dumbbells. Once at the bottom of your deadlift, squeeze the glutes and hamstrings to pull you back up to a standing position, making sure to keep the abdominals engaged. Repeat 12 times for 3 sets.
Plank: Start by lying down on your stomach. Place the forearms on the floor with the elbows directly under the shoulders. Push your stomach off the ground into a flat position by coming up on your toes and lifting the knees, maintaining the hips in alignment with the shoulders. Make sure to also squeeze your glutes and pull up your quads so your entire core kinetic chain is helping. Hold for 30-60 seconds.