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Core fitness: why you need it and how to get it

It’s a buzz word that’s thrown around the gym more often than a sweaty towel, but what is core fitness, why do you need it and – more importantly – how do you go about getting it?

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It’s a four-letter, one-syllable word, but few fitness terms are as misunderstood as the mysterious part of the body we refer to as the ‘core’.

Most men assume strengthening the core muscles means doing endless crunches and other stomach exercises, but in fact it requires building up dozens of muscles attached to the hips, pelvis and lower back as well as the abdominals.

It’s not uncommon for blokes to ignore the core in its entirety and instead focus on developing the so-called ‘mirror muscles’ that they can see. But do so at your peril. As personal trainer Gavin Walsh explains: “Effective core training requires all of the core muscles working in sync. To make progress in the gym, they need to be working together.”

Once you’ve mastered this, the pay-off is immense. So here’s our guide to the many advantages of getting hard-core with your fitness.

Core benefits
Strengthening your core muscles means more than being able to go longer and harder in the gym; your health and wellbeing will also benefit.

Walsh says: “A strong core is essential in helping us prevent injuries such as lower back pain, improving posture and balance on top of the boost to your sporting performance.

“The core refers to our midsection; all the muscles from the hips up to the shoulders. These include the transversus abdominis, the internal and external obliques and the quadratus lumborum. These muscles act together as a control centre for the body’s balance and stability. Core fitness is fitness training that provides strength and conditioning exercises to support how you move, work and play every single day.”

Your posture improves because core exercises centre your spine, making you more erect. You’ll find yourself doing what your mum used to tell you to do – standing up straight and appearing slimmer and taller.

A robust core also goes hand in hand with losing weight (more muscle means you burn more calories, even when you’re not exercising), reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and, because you’ll be covered head-to-toe in lean muscle, you’ll receive a major kick to your self-esteem.

The main benefit of core training is, of course, to your fitness levels. Walsh says: “Many personal trainers and fitness gurus teach that in order to get stronger you need to lift heavy weights, do more repetitions and do more sets. This is true to a certain degree.

Filed in: Health Tips

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