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What is the best way to train the core?

Eric Beard
Sports Medicine
There is no one best way to train the core but most people could benefit from a stabilization style of core training. Stabilization training for the core is when we practice engaging the smaller muscles around the spine and abdomen (like the transverse abdominus) first and then engage the larger muscles around the trunk (life the external oblique). The goal of this type of training is to hold the spine still or stable. This can reduce risk of injury to the spine and the surrounding  structures  like inter-vertebral discs, ligaments and muscles.  Once we have become proficient with this type of training then other types of core training are possible.
The core consists of the hips, pelvis, abdominals, lower back, mid-back, and neck regions of the body; essentially, everything but the arms and legs. Because the core encompasses more than just our abs or lower back, effective core training should consist of more than just abdominal or lower-back exercises. Also, the muscles of the core can be divided into distinct categories that have to work together to ensure proper movement and function. Some of the core muscles, especially those located closest to the spine, are primarily responsible for providing stability or preventing excessive movement that could place increased stress on our spine. Other core muscles, generally the larger and more visible muscles in the mirror, are primarily responsible for generating movement. Therefore, an effective core training program should include a variety of exercises that involve stability, or little to no motion, as well as exercises that involve movements in all directions. An example of a stability-oriented core exercise is the plank, whereas an example of a movement-oriented core exercise is a stability ball crunch. Both are effective core exercises; however, selection of appropriate exercises should be based on your fitness program goals.

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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.