With summer just around the corner, it seems that everybody is spending those extra hours in the gym focusing on that summer body. I see a lot of people concentrating on their core training, performing a wide range of different exercises striving for that 6 pack of abs.
Why Is Core Training So Important?
There’s more to core training than just the 6 pack. Several studies advocate the importance of core training as a means to improve stability, maximise strength, reduce injury and maintain mobility. If you looking for the full body tone up, core training is a must. Core strength is essential for most daily activities (walking, climbing stairs), but even more important if you perform any compound movements (squat, deadlift) during a gym workout.
What type of core training can you do?
Isolated core training
Isolation exercises are localised movements that target only one muscle group e.g. the crunch. These are the exercises that most people are very familiar with and are doing in the gym. Isolated core training help towards developing six pack abs and help build overall strength, but not so good at increasing your inner core strength (trans abs, obliques etc – we’ll cover this topic in another blog!).
Integrated core training
Integrated core exercises are considered complex, multi-joint exercises that combine trunk muscle activation with contractions of the limb muscles e.g. Dead bug exercise.
A study conducted by Gottaschall et al., 2013, looked into whether performing isolated core exercises or integrated core exercise produced more muscle activation. Their study displayed that integration core exercises required more activation of the distal trunk musculature which is optimal for maximising strength, improving endurance, enhancing stability, reducing injury, and maintaining mobility. The results illustrate that integration core exercises elicited the overall greatest muscle activity while challenging coordination and balance. In turn offering that full body workout.
Which type of core training would I pick?
This question leads back to what your personal training goal is? Are you training for a particular sport, or just looking to work your abdominal muscles to achieve a 6 pack?
Personally I prefer integrated core exercises as they are more functional. I enjoy strength training and an outdoors run once a week. I find that integrated core exercises help with my overall stability and mobility that I need to carry out the training that I enjoy. However I do find myself starting my core work outs with isolated core exercise. This get my core muscle activated and ready for the more complex core exercises involved with the integrated exercises.