How to Tighten Your Core Muscles – Tutorial
It dawned on me that with a lot of direction to “tighten” “activate” or “engage” the core, some people, beginners especially, may be left wondering what exactly it involves! How do you tighten your core, and what should you feel when doing it correctly.
The “core” means any muscles involved in keeping you upright and stable while protecting the vulnerable structures and joints from injury. These muscles include the abdominal muscles (upper, lower and obliques), the back muscles (upper and lower), the pelvic floor (inside) and, importantly, the glutes.
If your core is relaxed, weak or ineffective you will be at high risk of injury during any activity or exercise. Therefore, in order to begin to strengthen these muscles, you first need to become aware of them. Connecting the mind to the muscles is a vital step in learning to activate them properly.
Most people can master the tensing of their abdominal muscles with some practice, but the problem lies when the lumbar curve remains vulnerable and unsupported. I have found that the key to alleviating this problem, is to get the glutes involved. One problem in this day and age is that, with many people spending more time sitting down, our hip flexors become over active and pull on the lower back, increasing its curve. The glutes must be “reactivated” and exercised regularly to help “relax” the hip flexors. When one muscle is contracted the other will relax. So, the glutes contracting will relax the hip flexors, allowing the lower back to be “released” and supported within the other core muscles.
In addition to this, contracting the pelvic floor will assist in activating the Transverse Abdominal Muscle (TVA), which is the body’s natural weight-lifting belt and helps pull the pelvis forward thus supporting the lower back. As you can see from the video, it is only when my glutes are activated that my body is truely stable and supported.
Steps to tightening the core:
- Place one hand on your lower abdomen (between your pubic bone and your belly button), tense your pelvic floor muscles and feel for some tightening of the (TVA).
- Once you feel this, try and tense this area even more (now you know where it is and what you need to feel).
- Next, tense the rest of the abdomen, as if you’re bracing for a punch, your breathing may become more shallow but forceful.
- At this point start squeezing the glutes and feel the pelvis tilt forward and lower back straighten slightly.
- Your quads will also tighten and you should feel like a solid oak, anchored to the ground with deep roots, like nothing can push you over.
- THIS is core stability!
Think planks, push ups, Kettlebell swings, Military presses, deadlifts ++ – this is what you need to do, for EVERY exercise!
Now go and tighten your core! And go Build a Strong Back and Core!
Hope this helps