When I started trekking, over a decade ago I used to think that all I really needed to work on was my lower body strength. After all, you need your legs to last the distance over uneven, difficult terrain, I reasoned. After a couple of particularly difficult treks, I realised just how wrong I was. Strong legs are of course necessary, but I came to understand that a strong core is equally, if not more, important.
The main reason for this is stability. If you have strong core muscles (and I’m talking about real strength here, whether or not you have a picture-perfect six-pack), your abdomen, hips pelvis and lower back are always working in harmony, and together, they give you stability and balance. These two things are extremely important even if you’re executing day-to-day functions. They become even more crucial when you’re playing a sport, or, like me, hunkering about steep mountain faces with a 10kg backpack!
The key to a strong core is to exercise your abdominal and back muscles in a coordinated way. And as you get better with your form, you will see many of the following things disappear: poor posture, lower back pain, and even freak muscle injuries. The other great benefit will be the ease with which you will be able to perform a wider range of motion, not just with regards to your pelvis and lower back, but also your arms.
While there are many great core workout videos out there, the 20-minute workout from Joe Wicks, aka The Body Coach, is one of my favourites. Especially when I want to mix up my core workout with some serious stamina-building cardio work. And believe me, the two exercises work great in tandem.
If you’re looking for a dedicated core workout, which not only tells you what to do, but also gives you the science behind why you’re doing it, look no further than this set from Jeff Cavaliere’s Athlean-X channel. Whether your fitness training levels are that of a beginner or more advanced, there’s something in it for you.
A new form of training that I’m slowly gravitating towards is calisthenics. Put simply, using nothing more than your bodyweight to train. This next set of five exercises from the Calisthenics Family YouTube channel is a great introduction to developing some serious core strength. They look deceptively simple, but they’re extremely hard to execute correctly. And therein lies the challenge!
So there you have it. Three excellent core workouts that you should be incorporating into your training regimen today. Because nothing makes you feel as strong, balanced, centred and unbreakable as a strong core!