More often than not, when people in the gym talk about focusing on their “core” for the day, what they really mean to say is that they want to work their abdominals. The “core” is a frequently misused term that actually encompasses more than just the abdominals. A true core workout will entail hitting the following muscle groups:
• Lower back
• Hip flexors
All movement originates from the core, which is why a real core workout is so important. By strengthening your entire core, you will see dramatic improvements in all other areas of fitness. For instance, you may notice that you’re able to squat deeper with more volume. A strong core is also very functional in that it will improve your day-to-day living tasks, keeping your safe from falls by improving your mobility and stability.
• Weighted Crunches
• Leg Lifts
• Russian Twists
• Weighted Oblique Side Dips
• Elbow to Knee Sit Ups
• Single Leg Deadlifts
• The Clam
• Standing Lateral Leg Raises
• Standing Cable Leg Pull-ins
• This may be contrary to what you’re used to but in order to truly develop the mind to muscle connection, you need to be able to feel your core muscles. The best way to do this is to train them while they are slightly sore. When sore, you will be able to actually feel which muscles are working. Going forward, you’ll be able to better focus on them.
• One of the most debated topics in the fitness industry is the number of core workouts you should perform in a week. If you’re a beginner, I would recommend no more than two core workouts per week. You want to build up your core musculature without risking overtraining. If you have been lifting for years, then I’d recommend no less than two core workouts per week.
• If you’re a beginner, I would recommend performing between one to two exercises per core muscle group (as listed above). Each exercise should have between one to three sets of 15 to 25 repetitions.
• If you’re an advanced lifter, you should be performing between two to four exercises per core muscle group. Each exercise should have between two to five sets of 20 to 50 repetitions.
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