Core conditioning is the act of strengthening the muscles of the abdominals and torso. This type of work can tone and condition the abs, improve lower back pain, and help the body to move properly both in exercise and everyday movement. Core conditioning goes far beyond sit-ups or crunches, and instead engages the muscles of the abdominals, both in the front and along the sides of the body, as well as the muscles around the shoulders, pelvis, and along the spinal column.
The theory behind core conditioning states that when the muscles of the core are strong and stable, they are more easily able to transfer energy to the extremities. This is beneficial for everyone, because injuries to the back often occur when the core muscles are weak. For instance, it is easy to pull a back muscle by bending incorrectly, lifting something that is too heavy, or extending the arms too far out in front of the body when trying to reach for something. Strong core muscles help to prevent these types of injuries. Because coordination is also improved, core muscles that are well conditioned can help create more controlled body movements, preventing falls.
Sit-ups and crunches are the most basic type of conditioning exercises. Other exercise programs focus on strengthening the core as well, and these include yoga, Pilates, medicine ball workouts, and exercises that take place on a balance ball or balance board. The core can be strengthened by performing simple exercises as well, such as push-ups, leg lifts, squats, and side plank moves, just to name a few. Athletes frequently use core conditioning as part of their training programs.
There are many gyms that offer core conditioning classes as part of their repertoires, or one might choose to work with an individual trainer. In addition, it is fairly simple to create an effective core training program independently. As when performing any exercise, remember to use controlled movements to prevent injury, warm up before exercising, and cool down when finished, and stay hydrated.
Core conditioning should be included as part of a combination of aerobic and strength training workouts. The combination will work the entire body, helping to tone muscles, increase strength, improve cardiovascular fitness and endurance, and help with weight loss or weight maintenance. Most experts recommend exercising approximately five days per week to get the most benefits, while still allowing the muscles time to rest and recover.