Using Core Muscles

Written by: Andy Mendenhall

“The Core” is one of the most frequently targeted muscle groups out there. However, it is also one of the most commonly misunderstood muscle groups. This is because when targeting the core, lots of effort has to be put into using the right muscles. Oftentimes, despite our best efforts, we still end up using the primary movers in our hips or other areas to lead the moving. 

Your core serves three main functions: rotation of the torso, flexion and extension of the torso, and stability during movement. This is very important to remember when performing ab exercises. Below are several things to keep in mind during your next ab workout.

First, stay focused on your hips and ribs. Your rectus abdominis is the “6-Pack” muscle that we can see (most obviously). Many ab exercises focus on targeting this specific muscle. The function of the rectus is to pull the hips and ribcage together. The upper abs can be targeted by focusing on pulling the bottom of the rib cage toward the top of the hips, and vice versa for the lower abs. Your abs do not move your legs. Therefore any sort of leg movement is designed to focus on tilting your pelvis through a more exaggerated range of motion.

Next, is the “Hollow Position”. Focusing on this position is a good way to ensure you are targeting your core correctly. During your next ab workout, before beginning any movement walk through the hollow position set-up sequence. Tuck your hips, squeeze your glutes, pull your rib cage down, and roll your shoulders forward. Focus on maintaining this position throughout the movement, or returning to that position before and after each motion. 

Last, make sure you focus on all three types of core function in each workout. Each workout should include some sort of contraction (moving your hips, ribs, or both), some sort of rotational movement, and some sort of test for stability. This is a great way to make sure you’re hitting all aspects of core strength.

Focus on these ques next time you do an ab workout, and you’ll be building stronger and more functional core muscles!

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