With the recent fascination in the fitness world to focus on developing functional fitness levels, you may find it comes as a surprise to discover that the best core exercise is not based on a yoga mat. In fact, if you want to develop a leaner, stronger base from which to boost all your big lifts you’ll have to go back to the annals of bodybuilding years gone by.
That’s right, despite the fact that most trainers will have you performing wacky exercises such as balancing on one leg while holding a tree branch and meditating, developing a stronger core has nothing to do with working out in a park.
However, the king of core exercises was recently discovered to be front squats performed with a loaded barbell.
Not only is this gym based barbell work, but it’s an exercise which is consistently overlooked by gym users in favor of trendy mat-based exercises which do little to stimulate anything other than the abdominal muscles. You see, developing a strong core does not mean simply blasting your abs with thousands of crunches. The core is made up of muscles which surround the spine from front to back, therefore it would be very foolish to only focusing on the front ones, right?
A great study published by the Journal of Strength And Conditioning Research was conducted in England in 2011. The researchers compared the effects of front squats against the superman exercise, an awesome body weight move which places incredible stress on the midsection.
Both exercises are great for developing core ability, but front squats actually recruited 5% more muscle activation in the erector spinae than the superman on a swiss ball.
Furthermore, this finding occurred using an empty bar in a bid to keep things fair against a body weight exercise. As more weight was added to the front squat the gains got greater and greater. While adding resistance to a body weight move can be tricky, with a front squat it is as simple as loading more plates on to your barbell.
The increase in strength was due to the fact that front squats stimulated the erector spinae muscles considerably. These are the muscles which sit around the spine and play a major role in overall core strength and ability.
If you were one of the many to believe that the greatest exercises for your midsection were based on a yoga mat or outside hanging from a suspension trainer, you are not alone. The fitness industry’s obsession with finding a new way to do old tricks causes a great deal of confusion and people often over complicate simple things. Overall, though, the old proven principles of bodybuilding, HIIT and aggressive strength training still trump any new developments scientifically.
Overall, the best core exercise is going to change upon personal preference, of course. However, if you like to base your training on the latest scientific studies then front squats should become an integral part of your leg training program.
More information: Top south shields personal trainer Russ Howe PTI provided today’s post. Learn his best core exercise for strength and many fat loss tips via his fitness and muscle building blog today.