Workout Wednesday

Start with your Core: Your Body’s Foundation

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 I have written several posts about our “core” on this website in the past:

muscular structure, function, modifiable exercises, to name a few!

Recent experiences with current and prospective clients bring me to discuss the important role of our core musculature again.

I share with you some common questions often addressed within the typical gym setting…

Why do new gym members fail at their exercise programs?

Past research claims that between 60% and 90% of sedentary individuals’ exercise programs resulted in injury within the first 6 weeks (Jones, Cowan & Knapik, 1994).

Why are injury rates so high among new exercisers?

While many reasons exist about this high percentage of injury, an idea is that exercise programs often focus on traditional resistance training (Clark, Lucett & Sutton, 2012). Resistance training is very important (for any age, gender, and/or fitness goal), however many strength training machines support the body, externally, and neglect internal stabilization – core stability. If an individual lifts heavy weight combined with repetitive movements on an unstable foundation (or weak core musculature), injury eventually results. According to James Edward Gordon, who is the founder of biomechanics, “compression structures fail due to lack of stability, not strength” (1987).

How do you prevent injury?

Create your first fitness goal about building a solid, stable foundation. The core musculature (abdominals, low back, hips, and gluteal muscles) is your body’s foundation in much the same way as the steel frame of your house.

How do you stabilize your core?

Core stabilization is achieved by contracting the deep muscles, which include: transverse abdominis (TVA), internal oblique, lumbar multifidus, diaphragm, and pelvic floor. When all of these muscles function together, they provide stability to each vertebra in the lumbar spine and stabilize the pelvis, which prevents low back injury.

How do you get strong core muscles?

Core muscles do not get strong because this group of muscles is designed to be quick and demonstrate endurance. Only a 10% maximal contraction is needed to properly stabilize the spine (Barr et al., 2005)! Additional research concludes that the TVA needs to contract to provide stability before the movement of other muscle groups.

So, the next time you are at the gym, activate your TVA before any arm or leg movements. Perform a few core exercises (Got Core?) prior to your chest, back, arm, and/or leg workout.



Stull, K. (2016). New clients? Get to the core of the matter. The Training Edge.

Accessed on January 29, 2017

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