How do I engage the core?

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LAPIII
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How do I engage the core?

Post by LAPIII » Tue Mar 15, 2016 4:37 pm

What is the difference between sucking in and engaging the core? I've read many resources on the Internet about what is the difference and had settled on to suck in only 30%, which is what I read in the article Contracting the Core Muscles by Sports Injury Clinic:
The correct level of activity in core muscles should be 30% of their maximum so that they have enough energy to contract continuously.
Here is their instruction on how to perform this:
All the following movements should be carried out whilst lying on a firm surface. Bend your knees and hips so that you are lying comfortably on your back with your knees up and feet shoulder width apart. Make sure your shoulders are relaxed and concentrate on breathing into the sides of your ribcage to take emphasis off the diaphragm - try not to breath into your abdomen and not into your upper chest.

Remember to breath normally throughout all the exercises- it is common for beginners to hold their breath as they focus on contracting the core.

Core contraction technique 1

Whilst lying in the above position, imagine that a belt with10 notches is tied around your abdomen. Take a deep breath in and on exhalation visualize that the belt is being fastened up to the tenth notch. Using the above transversus palpation technique can you feel a tightening (not bulging) under your fingers? Now visualize leaving the belt off to the 3rd notch.

Core contraction technique 2

In the same position as above take a deep breath in. On exhalation focus trying to lower your belly button down towards the floor. Palpate for a contraction of the transversus. Now ease the contraction off to about 30% of its max.

The above techniques focus on contracting transversus abdominus however it is common to find these exercises difficult. The next technique is focused on contracting the pelvic floor as an alternative.

Core contraction technique 3

In the same position as above take a deep breath. On exhaling focus on 'drawing up' from the pelvic floor. Imagine that you wish to stop yourself going to the toilet however make sure you do not over use the other abdominal muscles- this would result in a 'bulge' rather that a tightening under you fingers.
Should I engage the core during every exercise? I'd like comments and opinions.

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Stephen Johnson
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Re: How do I engage the core?

Post by Stephen Johnson » Thu Mar 17, 2016 7:51 am

There is some debate as to whether sucking in your gut helps when you're lifting serious weight.

My personal opinion is that if you do exercises correctly, the core muscles will be engaged. The body's muscles were meant to act as a unit, not in isolation. It's a safe bet that champion powerlifters and Olympic weightlifters have strong core muscles.

If you still want to train your core muscles directly, maybe this link will help. It makes better sense to train core muscles directly, rather than to let training them take your focus away while performing the major lifts.
Thanks TimD

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Jungledoc
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Re: How do I engage the core?

Post by Jungledoc » Sun Mar 27, 2016 2:08 am

Every exercise is a core exercise. Except maybe for small isolation lifts, every significant lift should engage the core.

Of course, there's the old argument as to whether heavy compound lifts are sufficient for developing the core, or whether you should also do direct core training. I feel that there is value in direct core training, but that you should also focus on the core for every lift. Training the core doesn't really take your focus away from the major lift, but rather is part of good technique. Whether squats, deadlifts, half-kneeling chops or DB shoulder presses, "setting the core" should always be part of the set up and execution of the lift.
Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter.--Francis Chan

tylerpc73
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Re: How do I engage the core?

Post by tylerpc73 » Tue Apr 05, 2016 3:19 pm

I think that the best way to engage your core is to flatten your back. Practice with planks while keeping your back his plans you can. The same motion will engage the core in almost every exercise.

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Jungledoc
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Re: How do I engage the core?

Post by Jungledoc » Fri Apr 08, 2016 8:12 am

tylerpc73 wrote:I think that the best way to engage your core is to flatten your back. Practice with planks while keeping your back his plans you can. The same motion will engage the core in almost every exercise.
Sorry, but I don't follow you here. Could you explain a little more how you see this working?
Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter.--Francis Chan

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