Photo credit:  BlackFire Photography

A lot of people ask me how to go about strengthening their core.  Many relate a "strong core" to a "six pack" . . . however, you can have a strong core without actually having that six pack look.  I know this is off on a tangent, but the REAL way to get that six-pack look is your diet . . . sorry people!!!!

Anyhow, back on track - A STRONG core!!!  The benefits of having a strong core are:

1.  Prevent injuries.  When you’ve got a strong core, everything else will fit into place on top of it, meaning your overall fitness will improve, making you less prone to injury down the road.

2.  Protect your inner organs and central nervous system.  This is an obvious benefit when you think about the impact our body takes when paddling off ledges, big drops or waterfalls.  Your spinal cord is everything, it's part of your bodies' control center.  If it isn't supported by your core muscles, then it will affect your movements, eventually cause pain and affect the quality of your life.

3.  Banish back pain.  Many people make the mistake of sitting for long periods of time (work, plus sitting in our kayaks).  When sitting, think about sitting tall on your "sit bones".  If your core is weak, your posture will be affected, resulting in possible back pain.
So, these are just a few reasons why you might be interested in strengthening your core . . . I could go on and on about the benefits, but hopefully just these three have convinced you.
One of my favorite core strengthening exercises is the plank.  I find the plank very effective because it has many progressive variations, plus it strengthens our shoulders and legs at the same time.  So, it's pretty much a total body exercise . . . BONUS!
Correct Form:
1.  Elbows and shoulders are aligned.
2.  Back is flat and hips and shoulders are aligned (you could set your grandmother's "favorite set of dishes on your back and they wouldn't slide off).
3.  Feet are either close (for more challenge) or farther apart (to add more stability).
4.  If you feel any "strain" in your lower back, drop your knees to the ground while holding your "core"/torso in the original position.
Incorrect Form:
1.  Dropping your hips down (see picture #1)
2.  Lifting your hips up too high (see picture #2)
Plank Hold Programming Recommendations:
4-5 times a week, 2-4 times holding between 20-60 seconds.  When these get easy, there are some awesome progressions . . . coming soon, so start here!
The rain is coming . . . let's get ourselves in tip top shape!  For more information or questions about my programming, please visit my Fitness & Sport Evolution website.
Heather Herbeck
Team L6

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