George Papadakos - Triathlon
For as long as I can remember I have wanted a six pack, and not one that you can get at the Beer Store either.
That dream has eluded me time and time again and even though it may still be a possibility in the future, I am more concerned with what is under that supple mass at my abdomen... my core.
The core is much more than just your abs, and is not addressed solely by crunches and abdominal exercises.
Without going into all the muscle groups that the core comprise of (and there's a lot), I would simply say that it is everything besides your legs and arms.
It is quite simply the connector of the lower and upper body and plays a crucial role in how they both perform in unison.
The core is the catalyst for initiating movement, transferring force from one extremity to another, or a stabilizer for all types of movements.
We don't need to apply having a good core to just athleticism, as it is very important to everyone on a daily basis.
Everyday life like picking your kids up, bending over to pick up your wife's laundry, vacuuming, sitting at a desk all day and standing require a substantial amount of core strength.
A lot of physicians will say that having a strong core will alleviate one of the biggest ailments that plague four out of five people in their lifetime... back pain.
From a triathlete's perspective a strong core is your biggest asset. Not only does it perform the above mentioned, but allows you to be more efficient.
For those of you that are unfamiliar with triathlon (shame on you, haha just kidding), it is a sporting event that consists of a swim, bike and a run. And while the distances vary, the degree of difficulty does not.
A strong core helps initiate the body rotation during the swim, by giving you a strong anchor to which your catch and pull phase of the swim stroke propel you through the water.
While on the bike your core helps to keep your body stable, and more importantly to give you a strong platform for your hips, thighs and knees to power the pedals, and to do so efficiently.
The run which is typically found to be the most difficult, mostly because of its position in a triathlon, is where your core makes or breaks you. I have found that the strength in my core allows me to last longer, with much better posture, and with this better posture I become more economical.
And when you become more economical, you conserve more energy because its not being wasted by poor running form.
A couple of weeks ago I talked about a connectedness to the ground, a pure gait and effortless stride. I would attribute these findings to the hard work done on my core through the winter.
The best thing about core training is you do not need a membership to an expensive gym, and the myriad of exercises will challenge, and keep you motivated as well.
For me a simple plank hold, whilst changing the duration of each hold, allows unstructured workout time during TV commercial breaks or after some training on the bike.
To do a plank, assume a push up position, making sure that your butt is not to high or to low, and with a flat back. You should be able to envision a metre stick nestled between your shoulder blades running from the base of your neck to your tail bone. Hold this position for as long as you can without breaking form, and repeat.
With a little work you can enjoy the benefits of improved core strength.
Until I meet you at the start line, train safe and have fun!