Build a Better Body: A Better Core

STEP 4: A Better Core - focusing on exercises designed to give you great abs and a great back, it will also focus on core strength as a way to improve overall health.

Nearly every athletic movement involves the use of your Abdominals, Obliques and/or Erector muscles. These muscles are the core of all strength and power movements, as well as the core muscular connection between your upper and lower body. These muscles are either involved in moving your torso or they work to stabilize your mid-section. In addition, these core muscles help provide the balance required to stay on your feet while playing. As a result, these muscles undergo great amounts of stress and need to be conditioned regularly. The stronger these muscles are the more support and stability they can provide. If these muscles are weak and unable to supply the stability your body demands, injury is likely to occur. Therefore, overload and challenge these muscles to build strength just like you do with every other muscle group throughout your body.

Training the muscles of the core also corrects postural imbalances that can lead to injuries. The biggest benefit of core training is to develop functional fitness - that is, fitness that is essential to both daily living and regular activities.

The main concepts of core strengthening programs involve using many muscles in a coordinated movement.

Abdominal bracing is the main technique used during core exercise training. It refers to the contraction of the of the abdominal muscles. To correctly brace, you should attempt to pull your navel back in toward your spine. This action primarily recruits transverse abdominus. Be careful not to hold your breath - you should be able to breathe evenly while bracing.

Other exercises that develop core strength include exercises on a stability ball, work with medicine balls, wobble boards and Pilate's exercise programs. Yoga is also an excellent way for athletes to build core strength. For a simple core strength program you can begin with push-ups and crunches, but work with a trainer to find the exercises that work best for you.

With Step 4: A Better Core in the works, you can move into the finishing touching, to create a master piece of yourself!

AND REMEMBER: There are very few unrealistic goals; only goals with unrealistic deadlines. So keep laying those bricks, every day, one at a time, and do not become discouraged (and remember, all major construction project have some set backs, you need to work through them and push on!) Eventually, you will build yourself a palace.

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