[This is a guest blog by one of our Athletic Interns, Adam Whitehead, an Exercise Science student from East Carolina University]
Want to get a great core work out?
Well, drop down and give me 30 sit ups or crunches. We’ve all undoubtedly heard how sit ups and crunches can lead to “six pack abs.” No doubt, completing several reps of these exercises on a daily basis will definitely lead you to the possibility of having that “6 pack,” but has your core really been strengthened by doing them?
What do you consider to be your core muscles? Some might say your abdominal muscles. That would be correct, but it simply isn’t the whole truth. When referring to all of the core muscles, the abdominal muscles are only one of the main groups of muscles that make up the core. “The core is the area between the sternum and the knees” (Biomechanical Basis of Human Movement 3rd edition). The core has also collectively been referred to as the area from arm pit all the way to the knees. This area includes the chest muscles. Working the core consists of more than just merely doing a few sit ups or crunches.
As previously stated, all of the muscles between the sternum and the quadriceps and hamstrings are considered part of the core. If a great core workout is desired, doing sit ups simply won’t hit all of those muscles groups. Why not engage most of the muscle groups within the core by completing a single exercise?
Are there such exercises that can engage the entire core? Yes. Cleans, snatches, dead lifts and squats all activate the muscles in your core. Within these movements, muscle force is being produced by the lower body. The external force is connected to the upper body. When such a great amount of force being produced by the lower body and being put on your upper body at the same time, the two are being held together by the abdominals, obliques, erector spinae. They are all activating synergistically to provide trunk stabilization. Without a strong core, your movement strength will be limited regardless of how strong your lower body is.