The core is the body's support structure. Core muscles, which include the abdominals, low back extensors, hip flexors and glutes, allow athletes to rotate or twist and keep the body locked in proper form when running, jumping, tackling or shooting.
The core muscles also transfer power from the lower body to the upper body, facilitating sport-specific movements like swinging a golf club and throwing a fastball. If your core is weak, force transfer is reduced, and you won't be able to throw as hard or run as fast as you could with a strong core.
Choose functional exercises that simultaneously activate multiple core muscles, such as Olympic Lifts, Planks, and Med Ball Rotational Throws. Any movement that requires you to balance your bodyweight or external weight also works your core. Challenge your stabilizer muscles even more with a Physioball, BOSU ball or TRX straps. Limit flexion-based core exercises such as Crunches, because although they promise six-pack abs, they do little to improve athletic performance.
Make functional, standing exercises a big part of your routine to engage your core. In addition, core-specific exercises such as Back Hypers and Russian Twists can be performed at the end of a workout three to four times per week for improved core strength and power.
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