Abs, powerhouse, core... these are words that we use to describe the muscles needed to help us dramatically improve our fitness outcomes.
Most people call them abs, but I prefer not to minimize the core to merely obliques, the rectus abdominus (6 pack muscle) and transverse abdominus (T.A. for short) but rather look at all the muscles that comprise the broader powerhouse of our core.
· Transversus abdominis
· Pelvic floor muscles
· Erector spinae
· Lumbar muscles (lower back)
· Quadratus lumborum
· Gluteus maximus/minimus/medius
A strong core (powerhouse) is a powerful ally.
It helps encourage better functional movement of joints.
It helps foster improved #posture.
It assists in optimal breathing.
It helps prevent lower back, hip, and knee injuries.
It reduces low back (and possibly even lower body) pain.
In my 33 years as a personal trainer now, I've witnessed many people who've worked out for years tell me that one day they bent over to pick something up off the floor and were unable to stand back up because of incredible back pain and spasm.
Why? When I looked more deeply into their movement and execution of the exercises they'd been doing, there was a lack of true core engagement and development.
Sure, they had strong quads, shoulders and biceps, for example, but they had extremely weak to nonexistent transverse abdominus activation, weak and under-used hip rotator muscles (see below for both) and often hip flexors doing the work of core muscles, which month after month, and year after year, ultimately led to that debilitating low back issue.
The Gluteus Medius and minimus, for example, when strengthened help improve and protect the #health and function of the knees.
The deep transverse abdominus muscle (my favorite of all the muscles!) though it doesn't move any of the joints at all, serves as a huge layer of protection for the internal organs and spine, particularly the lower lumber area.
The transverse abdominus, when targeted and strengthened, can dramatically help to reduce low back pain and even things like sciatica.
It's also why in the September Kickstart I'll be sharing tips on how to find your neutral spine and provide tips for how you can brace your T.A. to help more fully and effectively activate your powerhouse.
It's through engaging this T.A. muscle that can help you get the best out of every workout.