Castle Personal Training is a Corstorphine, Edinburgh based company who specialise in weightloss/toning and Pre and Post Natal exercise.
The core is just about the most important group of muscles in the body yet most people don’t do exercises that train it properly.
I’ll have a closer look at the core, what it is and what it does, and give an explanation why core exercises should ALWAYS be dynamic (unless you have a specific weak area). I will also show you how to work your core effectively and quickly!
First things first; What is the core? Most people think of the core as just their abdominal and lower back muscles, and this is where a lot of mistakes stem from. If I put it very simply; If you ignore your arms and legs, your core is what’s left. More detail is here
Your core consists of 3 layers of muscle tissue – Deep, Middle and Outer.
This is where you keep your position sense muscles. I am not going to go into this very deeply but, basically, these are all little muscles that connect to your vertebrae. These control your very basic stability. These ensure you can safely pick something up off the ground. If you “did your back in” picking something up, these are the ones that were weak.
This layer is made up of quite a few muscles. Your TVA is, essentially, all your abdominal muscles. Your internal obliques are the bad boys to the side of your abs.Lumbar multifidus, back muscles. The diaphragm, which allows you to breathe and your pelvic floor (which all women who have ever had a baby will know about), all make up your inner layer. This layer protects your spine and stabilises it so that you can move your arms and legs without waddling all over the place. This is the layer that is very important if you ever want to be good at any sports.
Many muscles make up your outer layer but to name a few; Your outer abs. External obliques, (yes there are two sets of obliques).Erector spinae (back muscles near the spine). The Glutes, your bottom muscles, and your adductor muscles.
These muscles, very simply put, are the ones that everybody wants as they are the ones on show but they also help protect your joints.
All 3 layers of muscles work together when you even do the simplest movement, such as putting something in the trunk of your car or reaching for something of the top shelf in the cupboard.
Here’s something I bet you didn’t know!
The “static” plank, which is the one core exercise most people are told to do by their trainer, only works your middle layer of core muscles. This is indeed important but what about the deep and the outer layer? All well and good that you are working on stability for your sport but it doesn’t do you any good if you’re always injured because you’ve ignored your deep layer.
So you spend ages doing various crunches and back raises for your outer core layer (abs, external obliques and erector spinae) as you want to look good on the beach. Nice but you’ve ignored your middle and deep layer so you’re at risk of picking up a back injury, so no holiday for you, and you can’t move well as you don’t have the stability required to move properly.
Some people mainly work their deep layer but ignore the middle and outer layer. It should by now be obvious that this is wrong as well. Why would you not protect and stabilise the spine when you you spent ages trying to prevent getting an injury?
You could work every layer individually, nothing inherently wrong with that, but it adds a lot of time to your work-out so I won’t give individual exercises for every layer here. Why not work all the layers in one go? This is the best way to ensure you cover everything.
If you make a standard plank “dynamic” you will work all the core muscle layers in one go. So you go from a 30 minute core workout to a 10 minute one! How great is that??
Most of us have seen the normal plank before; You just assume the below position, hold everything as tight as you can, for as long as you can and your “core” really starts to burn. It’s not quite your core though. As said before, this only works your middle layer. I’m introducing a new rule; It’s not a core work-out unless you work all layers! You will not say “I worked on my core a bit today as I did some planks!”
A dynamic plank is fairly straight forward. The term dynamic already implies what it’s all about. You start in the above, or similar, position but you add movement to the exercise.
You can do dozens, if not hundreds, of variations of a dynamic plank but Dev does a pretty good version of the one I always like to do
Here is another great example of a set of core exercises as shown by Cara from Verge Yoga.
These exercises work all the layers of core muscle. It’s brilliant, do this regularly as part of your normal work-outs and not only will you help prevent spinal injuries and improve your overall stability you also get the toned look you’re after so you look good on the beach!
I hope you will stop doing silly things such as crunches and static planks, unless you really need to work on an area, and just start working out the smart way after reading this.