Thursday, June 21, 2012

Core Strength

In a recent conversation with a friend, we discussed how he was at the limit of being able to add more weight to his workouts.

I advised him rather than increasing the weight, he could try decreasing his stability allowing him to use less weight for more benefit. He didn’t seem to understand the principle behind this progression, stating that this would “only improve his core”, rather than the muscle group he was trying to work on, as though core strength was unimportant.

I pointed out that the easiest way to decrease stability was to do the exercise standing on one leg, that his legs contained the largest muscle groups in the body and were undoubtedly taking on some of the work, particularly if he was doing an upper body exercise.

With a weighted push or pull, being unable to rely on the strength of the lower body forces the upper body muscle groups, either the chest or the back, to work harder with less weight to achieve the result.

Improving you core strength is also the best way to prevent back pain, particularly if you are sedentary or seated for much of the day.
That’s the technical talk, but this conversation also got me thinking about how training and strength extend beyond the physical body and our muscles.

Being strong inside and out means working and training consistently, whether we want to or not, whether we “feel like it” or not, and it teaches us more about ourselves and how we handle the difficult things in life.

Having the discipline of training our physical body also impacts our mental and emotional ability to cope when life throws the harder, weightier stuff at us.

Life throws instability, often in the form of our relationships which force us to grow, develop and change in ways we hadn’t anticipated or would necessarily have chosen for ourselves.

Working out how to navigate the instability gives us skills and resources we may not have realised we possess and deep in our core, we grow stronger and more able to deal with the inevitable challenges of life.

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