Abs abs abs – we all dream of having that washboard, model stomach, right? Take a look around every gym and you’ll see people of all shapes and sizes chiseling away at those abs with core busting exercises like crunches, bicycles, the ab wheel, and other moves that’ll make it hurt to laugh tomorrow. A popping six-pack might look great, but how many of us actually know the importance of our core muscles and what they really do? After all, these little ‘vanity’ muscles may actually be extremely useful for Mudders when crawling through the mud or tackling some of our signature obstacles.
What are the Core Muscles?
Turns out it’s not all about abs. Your core is actually an extremely complex set of muscles, extending far beyond that six pack, including everything besides your arms and your legs. According to Sports MD the core is actually composed of as many as 35 different muscle groups connecting into the pelvis from the spine and hip area. Each muscle exists within 4 regions; back extensors, abdominals, lateral trunk muscles, and the hip muscles. Bigger than you thought hey?
Ok, so that’s the boring anatomy bit done. Now what do they actually do for us?
What do Core Muscles do?
Our Support System
Just like on a Tough Mudder course or during one of our Tough Mudder Challenges, we all need help from our friends, family or colleagues throughout the day to overcome any obstacles. Our bodies are no different. You may not realize it, but your core muscles provide that bit of support needed to perform even the most mundane of everyday activities, from getting out of bed, to sitting in a chair, reaching for that chocolate bar on the top shelf and even standing still. They literally keep you upright, acting as the base support for your entire body.
Ever wondered why you don’t fall over when running on the bumpiest terrain? Your core. Who knew those ab crunching exercises that you perform in the gym actually lessen your risk of falling face first in the mud?
Think of your core as the initiator for every single movement your body performs. Even when they don’t seem that important, your core is often the first to the party for every plane of motion. Pretty much any physical activity that we do, from football, to dancing, to mud runs, are powered by the force of the core.
Building a stronger core also means that you will experience less muscle fatigue and better endurance, helping you perform those activities to a much higher standard. So building that core enhances your other muscles too – no brainer.
Strong Core = Healthy back
It’s never good to put too much pressure on ourselves…or our backs. If you don’t have strong core stability and support acting as a base for your spine, it is likely you’re going to compensate with other muscles and over-pressurise your lower back.
A weak core is actually one of the number one risks for potential injuries, especially in that lower back area. Weaker core muscles also contribute to slouching and bad posture, which in turn heightens wear and tear on your body. Injuries are no fun for anyone, so make sure you make strengthening your core a priority.
The Best Core Exercises
How do I strengthen my core we hear you ask? Well, luckily for you we have plenty of advice and workouts to show you the best exercises to do at home or the gym so you can get that aesthetically pleasing, functional core you’ve always wanted. You can thank us later.
A few of our favorites include the core workout that will help you tackle Black Widow, five lower ab workout moves and three ab exercises for a stronger core.