The word "core" is thrown around in various ways in the fitness world. Some think the core is a sleek six pack, when in fact the abdominals are only a fraction of your core muscles. While core work does help produce toned abdominal muscles, core exercises include a lot more than just crunches.
Functional core training is about power, strength and stabilization. Core muscles create a solid base for your body, allowing you to stay upright and stand strong on your two feet.
Core work allows you to stabilize your spine, which improves and controls your posture. Functional core training allows you to practice movement that provides optimal motion for daily tasks. Challenging your core not only improves balance and functional movement, but it creates that toned look that so many people crave.
So what muscles are the core muscles? According to Ian Middleton, owner of Functional Training on the Net: "The core can be defined as the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex: there are 29 muscles that have attachments within this area."
Basically, think of your core from your torso down to your hips. These muscles allow functional movement in any direction. Keep in mind these muscles protect your spine, therefore allowing you to have a stronger back. The following muscles are part of your core group:
- Hip adductors
- Gluteus Medius
- Gluteus Minimus
- Erector Spinae
- Rectus Abdominis
- Gluteus Maximus
- Hip Flexors
- Transverse Abdominals
- Internal Oblique
- External Oblique
You work more muscles with functional core training than crunches, and you work in a larger range of motion utilizing more muscles. In fact, if you're trying to create that sleek look, stop crunching and try functional core exercises.