By now most of us have heard the term “core” and why it is so important to strengthen it. The definition of core is “the central, innermost, or most important part of anything.”
The core of the human body protects our vital organs and spine, helps us to maintain balance and provides stability in our daily movements. Practitioners of the martial arts believe this is where our “chi,” or life force emanates from. Makes sense that we would want this to be in great shape doesn’t it?
The muscles that make up the core are the upper/lower abs, the obliques, the erector spinae, the longissimus thoracis, and the diaphragm. So it involves much more than that elusive “six-pack” everyone is trying to achieve.
There are five different parts of core stability.
- Motor Control
Think that your core is already strong enough? Try these five tests of core strength.
Trunk Stability Push-up Test
Begin by getting into a push-up position, toes on the ground, chest touching the floor, with your hands shoulder width in line with your chin. In one fluid motion, push up into a locked out position. Maintain a straight body! You can use a broomstick or piece of PVC pipe to assure you are keeping in proper alignment.
How did you do? Now do four more. If you have problems with this movement, your core needs more work.
Get into a push-up position, now tuck your elbows under so your weight rests on them. Hold this position for 90 seconds, making sure your body stays straight. Once again, a dowel or piece of pipe may be used to ensure proper form. Well, easy, hard? Be honest!
Stack your feet together and place your elbow directly under your shoulder. Keep your body straight, don’t let your butt drop! Hold this for at least 60 seconds. How did that feel?
Toes to Bar
Hang from the bar at what is called a “dead hang.” Slowly lift your toes to the bar and return to the starting position. Now do four more. An alternative to this movement is to bring your knees to your chest. This is easier, so you have to do six of them in order to “pass.” Again, using momentum is cheating, and the only one you are cheating is yourself.
If you have access to a gym, do a single deadlift under the “Novice” section of this chart in accordance to your bodyweight. Make sure you maintain proper form! If that was too easy, move on to the “Intermediate.”
If you were able to do these 5 tests with no problems, that’s awesome! You are on track to maintaining a healthy core that will be beneficial to you in all of your daily activities. If you found you had some difficulty with these movements, not to worry!
Next week I will provide you with some excellent core exercises that you can do in a gym, or within the privacy of your home. The fact that you have read this and attempted the tests is a very positive step in becoming a healthier you and I applaud you. So stay motivated, stay focused and stay healthy my friends. See you next week!