The "Core" has become a buzz word among the fitness industry these days. Everyone talks about the importance of the core and you see core work in most group exercise classes including yoga!
What is the core? The core can be defined as the trunk, shoulders and hips. Our spine holds all this together amazingly.
What are the best exercises for the core? Everyone has their favorites but honestly we want the best bang for our buck so we can do it and move on, right? Who wants to do hours of core work all day? There are two types of abdominal training: integrated and isolated. Isolated exercises occur when we focus on one muscle group-say the obliques (which run along the side of the waist roughly speaking) and we get this one muscle group to contract under load. For example, a twisting crunch is an isolated exercise for the obliques.
Integrated exercises combine many muscles in one exercise, like forearm plank or side plank.
Which is better isolated or integrated? New research is showing that integrated exerices provided more abdominal activity based on EMG studies. Research is also showing that the contractions in integrated exercises like planks mimic the muscle firing patterns we see when people walk. When we walk we use all the muscles in our core front, side and back!
What does this all mean? In the classes I teach, for example, BodyPump uses integrated exercises for the core track. In yoga most all the core work poses are integrated so you can just keeping showing up for class and you are set! Truthfully in yoga you are working your core in most all the poses anyway!
Information takes from Les Mills , "Applied Core Science"
Research was bases on Dr. Jinger Gottschall, Professor of Kinesiology