Core muscles are better than just abs. Why? Your core is one of the most important muscle groups in your entire body. Strong core muscles make everyday movements easier. Even though core muscles are so important, many people don’t know what they are. Worse, people think flat stomachs and chiseled abs are indicators of a strong core, but are actually unrealistic body images.
This post will educate you on what your core really is, why core exercises are essential and which ones really work, and why standalone ab workouts aren’t really what you should do.
What are Core Muscles?
Your core is the muscle group found in the midsection of your body. Your core includes your stomach or belly area, mid and lower back, hips, and glutes (butt muscles). The major muscles of the core are your transverse abdominis, multifidus, pelvic floor muscles, obliques, rectus abdominis, erector spinae, and diaphragm.
Given how many muscles make up your core, it’s no wonder why this muscle group is so important not just for sports performance but even for everyday health.
Why are Strong Core Muscles Important?
You use your core muscles in almost every activity you do. Core muscles help you pick things up, maintain proper posture and generate power during running and other activities. Strong core muscles also decrease the likelihood of back pain, especially lower back pain.
Everything you do uses core muscles, so make sure you do your core exercises!
Best Core Exercises
The five best exercises for your core are:
Try these plank variations.
Check out the 10 Best Core Exercises to see how to do the exercises plus five more amazing core exercises!
Follow along with this 16-minute core workout!
Why Ab Workouts are a Waste Of Time
You may have noticed that this post hasn’t mentioned building washboard abs or flat stomachs yet. Many people believe that core muscles are the same as abs. While having that mythological set of abs can be a sign of strong core muscles, you may not get abs even when you focus on building core muscles.
We are bombarded by images of super fit people and celebrities with chiseled abs. It’s no wonder so many people think having abs will mean they are instantly attractive and healthy. But being able to actually see your abs is mostly a function of low body fat, ab toning exercises that don’t build functional muscle, and even dangerous practices like intentional dehydration.
Ab workouts like sit-ups, crunches and others only tone the abdominal muscles. Furthermore, these workouts don’t actually build functional muscle—the kind of muscle you need to live pain-free and do the things you want to do like picking up stuff (or kids) or setting a PR in your next half-marathon. What ab workouts actually do is strain underdeveloped back muscles, which can lead to severe back pain or even injury.
Check out these plank variations that also develop strong and healthy back muscles:
Don’t waste your time with vanity ab workouts and exercises. Build functional core strength you can actually use by doing the above exercises instead.
How to Really get a Flat Stomach
So, you really want to get a flat stomach even though you should really be focusing on building core muscles? Here’s how you can do it in the least amount of time:
Do any of those things seem realistic, sustainable, healthy or fun? Don’t mistake vanity for health. Just because you can see your abs and they look defined doesn’t mean you have strong core muscles or are healthy. Instagram abs are a waste of time: build strong core muscles, butt muscles or even chest muscles instead!
Why You Don’t Need Rock-Hard Abs or a Flat Stomach
Abs and flat stomachs are unrealistic body images we all fall victim to. The images of wildly fit people many of us see in the media are not what we should strive towards. Focus on building functional core muscles that will actually make your life better and not just vanity muscles that you think will make your life better.
Treat yourself: strive for health.