Friday, April 4, 2008

Core Exercises

By Courtney Westlake


Sure, it's nice to have toned calves or bulging biceps, but the muscles you should especially focus on are at the core of your body.

"Core" refers to the muscles in your abdominals, along your sides (like the obliques) and your back muscles, and your core muscles are the basis for many of the activities and functions of your body.

"Your core is important for overall fitness as well as good posture and stabilization," said Nathan Forcum, a personal trainer with the TRAC. "You use your core in almost all exercises, even things like running and skiing, so it's good to keep those muscles strengthened."

Forcum and Amanda Jillson, assistant director of fitness and instructional programs at the TRAC, showcased some basic exercises one can to do strengthen the core muscles (to view the proper form, watch the video):

The Superman: lay on your stomach with your arms extended over your head and raise your arms and legs upwards to create a curvature in your back where your spine is. This exercise works your back core muscles, stabilizer muscles and lower back, Forcum said.

The Bridge: lay on your back with your knees bent and lift your pelvis toward the ceiling. Forcum said this focuses on your stomach, legs and glute muscles.

The Plank: get parallel to the ground face down and balance on your toes and forearms, simply maintaining your body in this position which works all of your core muscles. You can also lift each leg up and down to work different muscles, Forcum added.

"Your core should be treated more or less like any muscles; you don't want to overwork them," Forcum said. "As a general rule, unless your workouts are extremely strenuous, you can work them out every other day or couple times a week."