It’s true - an out-of-balance core can make it a LOT harder for you to reach your fitness and strength goals.
Imagine your core is like a flexible piece of tubing made of dozens of intertwining muscles. One of its many jobs is to support your torso and protect your spine as it powers your arms and legs, keeping everything stable, balanced and strong.
Now imagine you bend that tube and leave it for a few hours on a chair. Eventually, some parts of the tube get tighter and others get stretched out – resulting in weakness and imbalance.
Keep that scenario in mind! Because we’re going to talk about…
Imagine putting a barbell on the upper back of the tube that’s been sitting all day.
Because it’s out of balance, with the muscles in the front tighter than the back, all those intertwining muscles can’t provide as much assistance and stabilization as they normally would.
That means the tube naturally folds forward during the squatting motion, putting a lot of extra pressure on the lower back part of the tube.
BUT … if all of the muscles were working together to hold the tube upright during the squat, it could have transferred more of the weight down to the legs, which would have not only been safer but also would have accommodated more weight on the barbell.
This same principle applies to almost every strength exercise!
Sooo … what can you do to make sure your “tube” is strong and stable, with all of its intertwined muscles in balance and working together properly?
Make time for specific core and mobility work!
Here’s a quick routine you can do to help balance your muscles if you sit a lot.
1. Grab a foam roller and roll out those tight hip flexors: get into a plank from your forearms, with the roll under one of your hips. Gently roll back and forth for about 30 seconds, paying special attention to spots that feel tight. Repeat on the other side.
BONUS: Also roll out your quads (the muscles in the front of your thighs).
2. Fire up your glutes with bridges: This move also works your core. Lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, push up through your heels and lift your hips up toward the ceiling, really squeezing through your glute muscles. Repeat for 15-20 reps.
NOTE: If your hip flexors are super tight it can affect how well your glutes do their job so it pays to really focus.
3. Work on rotational strength with a woodchopper: Hold a light to a medium dumbbell with both hands and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Twist slightly so that the dumbbell is by your right thigh, and abs braced, move the dumbbell at a 45º angle so that it rotates toward (and above) your left shoulder. Return to the starting position and repeat for 8-10 reps.
Repeat on the other side.
4. Challenge your entire core with a forearm plank: Get into a push-up position but bend your arms so that your weight is on your forearms. Your elbows should be directly under your shoulders.
Keep your body in a straight line from your head to your heels, your abs and glutes tight and strong.
Make sure you breathe! Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.
Those are some exercises to get you started. I hope they help make a difference in your strength and help you get the results you’re working for.
If you’d like some specific guidance to help you with your goals, let’s talk!
And come back next week to learn how your posture and core strength can impact your moods and stress levels!