Develop Strength Down to the Core

Emma Oko

Sheffield, United Kingdom

Personal Training


Develop Strength Down to the Core - Fitness, core exercises, glute strength, abdominal training, quadriceps, coiling core, BMUK


Consider the egg—a raw one may have a hard exterior but we all know what happens when the outer shell is compromised. Unless we reinforce the inside first, by cooking it, an egg might look hard and solid when, in fact, it's fragile and falls over when we try to stand it up. A hard-boiled egg, on the other hand, can be spun on its head.



Activation of the core muscles should be a high priority each time we workout because core strength gives us the necessary foundation for strength training and functional movement. Also, a weak foundation is prime territory for injuries so these muscles are vital for our protection and safety.


If our heavier external muscles are strong and toned, that strength must go down to the bone.


Discover Your Core

Many people locate the core as the area behind our navels. While that's a logical assumption, the core region really runs from our hips; all the way up the spine and because our thigh bones are attached to the pelvis; all the way down to our knees as well. This is evidenced when we kneel, our glutes fire-up and after a spell, there's a noticeable lift in the buttocks.


Try kneeling down with your hips directly over your knees and feel how your buttocks are gradually activating and tightening up. In this position, our glutes are doing the stabilizing, more so than the muscles behind the navel.



House of Cards and Injury Prevention

Imagine the skeleton as a house of cards with the bones and vital organs balancing on random decks. Now, if you can imagine the role our muscles play in holding that structure together, you can see how vital it is to include core strength training in each session.


Injury Prevention

I've seen many experienced gym users struggle with the most basic body-weight exercises only because they've been training too hard and with too much added resistance. If we add too much external resistance too soon we're not building a solid base but instead, we build strength in all the wrong areas, leaving ourselves wide open to injuries.
Slips and ouches may be part of life but so many are avoidable, especially when they're caused by poor training techniques or dysfunctional movements.


Activate Your Core Chain

Our core muscles are mostly comprised of type 2 fibers which respond better to isometric (or static) stimulation. Core muscles, along with protecting the spine, hips, and organs, do a lot to prevent us from tipping over.


A simple way to activate your core is to hold yourself up when you exercise—no irony intended. So much of the fixed equipment in gyms encourages sitting but the problem is, once we sit down and start pumping iron, we disengage most of our core stabilizers. Instead, try to keep them engaged by adopting a strong, stable stance (preferably on your own two feet) before repping-out with free-weights. To recruit your core muscles, the trick is to keep the rest of your body static as you pump your weights. For advancement, try an unstable surface like a Bosu, a wobble board or a deep static squat.


The study of biomechanics shows us that most human movement is generated from the hips. As this is also the foundation for the spine and legs, the surrounding muscles have a critical job to do. Not only do they provide a nucleus of strength for the entire body, but they help protect and stabilize the spine. Adding heavy muscle mass to a delicate structure isn't a wise move towards strength gains.


It is better to get buff from the inside out by getting down to the core. For a demonstration of how to use free-weights while keeping the core engaged, check out this move, The Kettlebell Halo.


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