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Building That Core – Building That Solid Foundation For Training

Let us kick off this blog with the definition of this so-called ‘CORE’. Just like a fruit the core is that tough central part that the fruit develops from.

A metaphor that I use from time to time with clients is when it comes to building a house. If you were to build a house from ground up, what would you start with? Would you begin with the framework or would you secure a solid base for the framework to be built on? Well, let us call the that solid base the core – the foundation of building a house.

With reference to the human body, the core for strength and stability are the muscles of the torso to assist in the maintenance of good posture, balance, injury prevention and so on. They are stabilizing muscles predominately located in your stomach and back that help to support your spine. These include the PELVIC FLOOR muscles – located within the hip region, TRANSVERSE ABDOMINIS (TA) – deep abdominal muscles that lie under the muscles of your waist. They wrap around the spine for support, protection and stability, MULTIFIDUS muscles (MF) – group of smaller muscles close to the spine. These muscles cannot be contracted directly, but respond to the movement and action of the TA. They are also the first to waste away in an episode of back pain, OBLIQUES – located off to the side of your abdominal region, RECTUS ABDOMINIS – that rippling six-pack you always dreamed about having, beginning at the pubic bone and ending at the sternum, ERECTOR SPINAE – a group of three muscles that starts around your gluteal muscles and runs up either side of your spine towards your trapezius, and a couple other muscles which include the LONGISSIMUS THORACIS and the DIAPHRAGM. There are also other muscle groups that take some part in adding stability and support to your spine. These include your LATISSIMUS DORSI or as we like to call it, your ‘LATS’, GLUTEUS MAXIMUS (yep, your bum) and finally your TRAPEZIUS or ‘TRAPS’. All these major and minor muscles are designed to fulfill their duties of protecting your spine and back from injuries in the gym along with various activities throughout general day-to-day life.

Pushing beyond this boring terminology and the old anatomy lesson, the core should be the main focus on building up before attempting any major lifting at all. Back problems can be the course of multiple things. Whether it is the footwear that you’re wearing, standing on your feet all day, sitting at a desk, awkward movements, incorrect technique whilst lifting, emotional stresses and anxiety or a weakness in your core, you should ALWAYS become familiar with the muscles that you are using. If you are not utilizing these muscles throughout various lifts and movements correctly, the smaller assisting muscles in your back are more than likely to be overused and therefore WILL eventually cause injury. Back injury can take months or even years to overcome.

Unfortunately, I’ve had cases where I have just taken on some dedicated new clients who have not been taught correct technique in the past when it comes to lifting. This is incredibly sad as they are only limited to certain exercises to begin with. Every one of my exercises that I provide does include an element of core activation. Not only does building your core prevent future injuries it will also enhance your performance in that specific movement. How many sports or compound movements involve a hip movement or core engagement? I’d say pretty much all of them.

BOXING – Faster, harder punches. Lighter on your feet and more agile around the ring.

KICKBOXING – Heavier loaded kicks and punches. Ability to switch stances instantly and absorb strikes to your torso.

RUNNING – Faster sprints and higher endurance running.

AUSSIE RULES or RUGBY – Hit harder and take on harder hits. Reduced injury and fatigue levels. Kicking further.

SWIMMING – Help assist your limbs to propel you through the water quickly.

GYMNASTICS – Helps to support your bodyweight and hold a position throughout various movements.

And the list goes on…


I do hope that you have benefited a bit out of this blog. For any questions and enquiries
please do not hesitate to contact me.

Matt Brown