How Often Can You Do Core Training

By: John Barban

The buzz about working "core" muscles seems like it will never go away. First of all, most people don't even know what the word "core" means. As a matter of fact neither do I! The word 'core' does not come from any scientific anatomy text I have ever read. As far as I can tell it is a term created by the fitness industry to promote all kinds of ab training products.

I'm assuming core training is supposed to give you a hard flat stomach or possibly even a 6 pack. I think this myth about core training is also how much of the new athletic style workouts are becoming popular as may exercises athletes do seem to appeal to the people who think they are doing a core exercise. So what is your core anyway?

As far as I can tell, people think their core is their abs, the oblique muscles (the muscle that are on either side of your middle set of abs) and your lower back muscles. This collection of muscles makes up the mythical "core". Now, if anyone besides a graduate trained biomechanist tells you they know exactly how these muscles work, they are lying, and probably haven't done enough research to know that they are lying (so technically its not really their fault for misleading you). The muscles of the core are very complex and the truth is that scientists still aren't sure exactly how they all work together. So now that we can see we don't really know how all the core muscles work together, how can you possibly think you are training them in any intelligent way!

The truth so far is that any exercise works your core muscles to some degree or another. As soon as you stand up and get out of bed in the morning your core muscles have to be activated to prevent you from just flopping over at the waist. All forms of rigorous physical activity will work your core muscles. For example, one of the toughest core workouts you can do is a series of short all out sprints. Don't believe me? Give this sprint interval routine a try and see how sore your 'core' and 'abs' are the next day.

20 yard sprints x 4
40 yard sprints x 4
60 yard sprints x 4
80 yard sprints x 4
100 yard sprints x 4

After each sprint walk back to the start and repeat until you have completed 4 sprints at that distance, then take 90-120 second rest and start the next distance. If you push these hard, your whole body should be sore the next day including of those 'core' muscles. I'll bet this is not the image you had in your head of a 'core' workout.

You can train 'core' muscles every day if you want, which isn't saying much because they are working all the time anyway. With that said there are core exercises that are better than others, and the exercises people typically think of for core should not be performed every day, and some of them like crunches should never be done at all. In the second part of this article I will discuss the right and wrong way to train this part of your body.

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