What are core muscles?

Dr. Vonda Wright, MD
Orthopedic Surgery
Your core muscles are your natural weight belt. To find them, put your hand on your waist, then suck in your belly button toward your spine. Did you feel the muscles under your skin get tight? These are your core muscles. They run obliquely from your spine to the front of your body. If you were not able to feel these muscles, try bearing down like you are going to the bathroom. You should be able to feel them now. Everything we do begins with our core muscles. These are the top of the exercise food chain as far as I'm concerned.
Fitness After 40: How to Stay Strong at Any Age

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Fitness After 40: How to Stay Strong at Any Age

It's one of the undeniable facts of life. After we reach a certain age, our bodies change. No matter how fit we may have been at 20, we're very different people after 40. But growing older doesn't...

The core muscles provide stability to all movements. People think that they are just the abs and back, but the core muscles are all the muscles that attach to the spine. They are called the "pillar.  When they are strong they provide stability to the shoulder, hip and trunk...the entire torso.

The core transfers forces between the extremities, upper and lower body. Before any rapid movement can occur through tyhe limbs, the core needs to be solid and stable. The more stable the core...the more effiecient and powerful your movements will be.

To strengthen the muscles of the core you need to do weight bearing (resistance) exercises that target the chest, upper and lower back, shoulders, all the muscles of the abdominal area and hip area.

Think "spine". The major muscles of the core reside in the area of the belly and the mid and lower back, and peripherally include the hips, the shoulders and the neck.

Major muscles included are the pelvic floor muscles, transversus abdominis, multifidus, internal and external obliques, rectus abdominis, erector spinae (sacrospinalis) especially the longissimus thoracis, and the diaphragm. Minor core muscles include the latissimus dorsi, gluteus maximus, and trapezius.

Within the core, the muscles are divided into two types: the stabilizers and the movers.

  • Transverse abdominis
  • Internal obliques
  • Lumbar multifidus
  • Pelvic floor muscles
  • Diaphragm
  • Transverspinalis


  • Rectus abdominis
  • External obliques
  • Erector spinae
  • Latissimus dorsi
  • Hamstrings
  • Hip adductors
  • Hip abductors

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.