Athletes, bodybuilders, or anyone else looking to get stronger or better physically fit, share a common need in their goal: the necessity of a strong “core,” essentially, the muscles of the abdomen and chest. This part of the body is known as the core because it is both at roughly the center of the body, but also because every athletic movement begins with these muscle groups. In short, to become a better competitor, or a more physically capable person, one must have an extremely strong core. The biggest arms and legs and necks in the world will be close to worthless without a group of core muscles to match.
There are many different things that one can do to improve his or her core strength. The simplest of these exercises, and the ones most commonly recognized, are the sit up and its cousin, the crunch. These exercises work abdominal muscles on the front of the stomach, and are a great starting point for the improvement of core strength. However, stopping with sit ups and crunches is doing a terrible disservice to one’s body, because there are several more muscle groups in the core that need to be worked out as well.
Another great simple exercise for core strength improvement is the pushup. Commonly associated with punishment, the pushup is also an excellent measure of core strength, because it tests the ability of someone to perform an exercise against the most common type of resistance: their own body. If one cannot do pushups, then one does not have the core strength required to support his or her own body weight, and a lot more time spent exercising that core is essential. Pushups can also be down backwards; that is, with the front of the body facing the sky, and this will also work important core muscles.
One great measure of core strength is one’s ability to do “the plank.” This exercise, which was likely dreamed up by a twisted person, involves resting on one’s elbows and the tips of their toes, while holding a flat and level back. That is a very simple explanation, and the reality of this exercise is that it is very difficult. Many people have trouble holding it for a minute or even thirty seconds. It is a great way to test one’s core ability, however, because once again, the body weight of the individual provides the resistance. People who are looking for more of a challenge can have a workout partner place weights on the small of their back while they are doing this exercise, which will increase the amount of effort they have to expend. World class athletes, those who would most obviously need a strong core, can often do this exercise for five to ten minutes or more.
Anyone looking to get started in athletics, bodybuilding, or any other kind of physical activity, or simply to get in better shape, needs a strong group of core muscles in order to achieve their goals. It also does not hurt that working these muscles is a great way to obtain the much desired “six pack” of abs.