One of the key muscle groups that often get neglected during a workout are the abdominal muscles, what is commonly referred to as the core. This muscle group truly makes up the ‘core’ of the body—they are indispensable for every movement you make through the day, and they have a huge bearing on just how far you can push yourself while working out or playing sports.
Having a strong core isn’t just about the aesthetics of a well-defined six pack. It’s also about providing your body with real strength that will help cut down on injuries as well as other niggling aches and pains.
The abdominals are made up of four specific muscles: the rectus abdominus, external obliques, internal obliques and transverse abdominus. Together, they help stabilize the spine, support limb movement and increase intra-abdominal pressure. The abdominals utilize both long and short muscles to fulfil these functions. So, when you workout your abs, you need to hit all of them.
The popular YouTube channel Corporis, makes videos on the human body and what science tells us about how our bodies function. It has a great video on the core muscles and exactly how they work, that you should check out. It clears up a lot of misconceptions and gives some great insights on how to strengthen them.
Now, when it comes to actual workouts, the thing to realize is that you can do core exercises anytime, anywhere. And you do not need weights or machines to do so. Just bodyweight is enough. Nor do you need to spend a lot of time doing these exercises. As the video from excellent fitness YouTuber Chris Heria shows, all you need is 20 minutes of intense work to hit all the muscle groups. It’s a great follow-along workout that you should definitely try.
If you are a beginner and you’d like to ease into the practice of exercising your core, you should check out the video from the YouTube channel Tone and Tighten. Dr. Jared Beckstrand, who specializes in physical therapy, takes viewers through 9 easy-but-effective exercises that can be accomplished in less than 10 minutes. Start here before you ramp up the intensity.