Today Longevity Exercise Physiology Drummoyne, EdgecliffMarrickvilleBella VistaRandwickPymble and Balmain, and Neutral Bay discuss one of the most common myths is that you need to do lots of sit ups to get a strong core. The first thing we need to look at to debunk this myth is what our core muscles actually are and their functions, then I will give you some tips on how to actually get a stronger core.

The core can be broadly split up into two sections, your inner and outer muscles. Your inner core muscles act as ‘stabiliser muscles’ and don’t do a lot of crunching or rotating. Think of this inner band of muscles as endurance muscles that need to give our spine and pelvic floor support. These muscles are much smaller and thinner and are not visible on the body.

Yes that’s right, one of the main roles of your core is to actual prevent movement and stabilise our spine.

Your outer core muscles are the visible ‘six pack’ and oblique muscles. These muscles do all types of functions – twisting our abdominals, crunching, but most of all and often overlooked in training, is endurance and ‘anti rotation’. Yes that’s right, one of the main roles of your core is to actual prevent movement and stabilise our spine.

Keeping this in mind, think about how it can apply to your training. If you JUST did sit ups, you are only training one small role of your abdominals. The key to good core training is to ensure both inner and outer core muscles are recruited, and all directional movements of the core muscles are trained.

Your main focus first should be on building endurance of the core muscles under load in all planes of movement. Once you are able to stabilise well (e.g. plank positions or on your back), you can then test your core in more challenging positions e.g. with movement incorporated. Keep in mind though too, our core muscles SHOULD be recruited in major barbell and dumbbell movements, strong cores don’t just come from floor sit up training.

In summary, keep the following tips in mind to develop a strong core:

  • Start by identifying and knowing your inner and outer core muscles. You should be able to engage these muscles in floor and standing positions. Learn this before any other core training.
  • Remember the actual role of the core muscles: anti rotation and endurance. Think of different positions to challenge your core again in standing and on the floor under load
  • Are sit ups bad? Not if done correctly and they cannot be used as the only form of exercise to develop a strong core. There are far more effective and important exercises to do!

Written by Luke Dorizas