It seems like the exercise world has gone CORE CRAZY!  Gyms and fitness centers all over Charleston, Mount Pleasant and it appears, the WORLD have dedicated classes JUST to the core.  There is Core Yoga, Core Cycling, Core Challenges…you name it, CORE will be there!  But what exactly IS it?  And why is it the biggest fitness buzz word of the day? 

Read on to get the skinny on your CORE, why we all care about it so much and how YOU can make yours stronger!

Getting to the CORE of “Core”

So when you think of your “core”, you’re probably thinking about six-pack-abs, right?  According to The Washington Post, it’s way more complicated than that—there are literally dozens of muscle groups make it up:

  • the pelvic floor muscles
  • the transverse abdominis (deep core)
  • internal and external obliques (side of the trunk)
  • multifidus (deep back muscles)
  • erector spinae (vertical back muscles)
  • the diaphragm
  • the gluteus maximus (butt) 
  • the trapezius (top of the back

A Strong Core isn’t Just for the Gym

“And they’re all extremely important,” explains Anne Viser, a physical therapist at Sports + Spinal Physical Therapy/Orthology (featured in the Washington Post).  In the article she explains that these muscles are  “not just for looks but for sports performance, injury prevention, daily tasks and keeping the spine safe and sound.”

Harvard Medical School explains it like this: “Think of your core muscles as the sturdy central link in a chain connecting your upper and lower body. Whether you’re hitting a tennis ball or mopping the floor, the necessary motions either originate in your core, or move through it.  No matter where motion starts, it ripples upward and downward to adjoining links of the chain. Thus, weak or inflexible core muscles can impair how well your arms and legs function. And that saps power from many of the moves you make. Properly building up your core cranks up the power. A strong core also enhances balance and stability. Thus, it can help prevent falls and injuries during sports or other activities. In fact, a strong, flexible core underpins almost everything you do.”

Active agrees.  Strengthening your core will even improve your most sedentary activities: “Sitting at a computer may seem easy, but it can put serious strain on your body. Developing a solid core can help take stress off of your lower back and other body parts.”

How a Strong Core Works

According to, “Doing core exercises stimulates a particular area in the brain called the cerebellum that links to body parts for coordination, spatial awareness, and balance. These exercises are not simply a workout for the body, but also for the brain.”

Trainer Jon Hinds, a core training advocate explains in Men’s Fitness that “If you have very strong core stabilization, the rest of your body is likely stable too…Exercises that cause you to stabilize teach your body how to react in sports performance or life situations where you need it–running, jumping, and any other situation that requires a quick reaction. Crunches or situps, although they make muscles burn, aren’t going to help athletic performance because the body isn’t put in an unstable environment where the upper and lower abs are engaged together.”

What Core Exercises Look Like

Elizabeth Nolan Brown for The Huffington Post explains, “The difference between core and abdominal training is that you’re not just targeting the front side of the body but the back side as well. A core workout will also include the erector spinae, which are he muscles that make up your back, and also your glutes. A movement that works your core is going to work more than one muscle group, and you’re going to see results a lot faster.”

The Mayo Clinic explains that core work can be simple: “Any exercise that involves the use of your abdominal and back muscles in coordinated fashion counts as a core exercise. For example, using free weights in a manner that involves maintaining a stable trunk can train and strengthen several of your muscles, including your core muscles.  You may also try several specific core exercises to stabilize and strengthen your core. Some examples of core exercises include planks, situps and fitness ball exercises.”

Worried that you’re not doing enough with your core?  FEAR NOT DUFFNATICS!  We make it a point to incorporate core into every exercise that we do!  So while you may be doing some ab-specific work when you’re doing your Mountain Climbers or Knees to Elbows, you are also engaging your core when you’re doing your deadlifts, working your lunges and even when you’re rocking out your burpees!!!