It happens to most of us – life gets in the way of your fitness goals. Sometimes, the breaks in your workout routine can last for months. Most athletes will tell you a break of 10 weeks or more leads to the beginnings of gradual strength decline.
If you’ve been too busy to exercise for a long time, don’t despair. Now you have a chance to build your body back in a way that will make you stronger and more injury free – working from the inside out.
Start with core workouts
The human muscle structure is made up of your trunk and limbs. These terms work nicely because you can think of your body as a tree.
During a windstorm, a tree with leaves on it will likely lose some branches. If it’s an old oak tree, then the trunk might well be rotted and weak. In that case, the trunk will not be able to handle the stress placed on it by the moving branches and it will snap at the trunk, taking down the entire tree.
If you’re starting anew, consider beginning by strengthening the entire core of your body from your pelvis up to your neck – on your front, back, and sides. In doing so, you’ll be able to exert stress at the limbs without causing potentially serious back pain or hernias.
The muscles of the core stabilize movement, transferring force from limb to limb. In many movements, they are the initiation point, so the need for a strong core is clear.
For an example of the stresses you’ll be placing on your core, consider these three activities and which parts of your core must handle the stress of your movements.
Running – The pelvis region is critical to proper movement in transferring the force of the legs to the abdomen. A strong core helps your entire body be more able to handle the impact of each footfall, thus reducing injury.
Lifting – Training with free weights causes extreme stress on, among other areas, the spine. Along your spine is a bundle of muscles and connected tendons – the erector spinae. Exercises which strengthen the erector spinae are: bent-over rowing, deadlifting, pull-ups, and squats.
Golf – If you’re playing 18 with a proper golf swing, your ab muscles should be sore. If your back is sore, then you’re not using your core correctly. It means your upper body torquing is not connected to your leg movement. The two are operating independently and in a sloppy loose fashion.
Many everyday athletes don’t think about their core. Go through the movements of your sport in slow motion, and feel your core engage. If you’re aware and committed, you’ll learn to support your body by training from the inside out.
Sources & Further Reading
The Core of the Matter – Runner’s World
“Cutting to the Core & Myths of Training with Free Weights – BodyBuilding.com
“Get to the Core of Your Swing” – GolfDigest.com
“Do You Know What Your Core Is and What It Really Does?” – Breaking Muscle
“Hitting the Ball with Your Core” – RotarySwing.com