How to activate your core
Many people entirely neglect the core, thinking that large compounds and the odd set of crunches are all that are needed to keep it functionally strong, or, worse still, that beach muscles are all that matter, without worrying about deep core function.
Having ripped abs or a solid chest press and having good core stability are nothing like the same thing. Core stability is something entirely separate.
Mechanically, core stability is the ability to keep your spine and pelvis aligned and balanced through whatever stresses your body goes through. This will require your deep core muscles to be online, responsive, and able to adapt, brace and move with any stresses placed on your body.
This means switching on your mind-muscle connection and being able to brace your core on demand.
Luckily, there are some great exercises out there that will help you do just that. Some of the top core activation exercises include:
- Side planks
- Beast holds
- Half wall sits
- Glute bridges
Perform these regularly and you will see the difference in your ability to activate and stabilise your core.
How to form good fitness habits #16 get your exercise nutrition right
To get the most out of your fitness and your athletic performance, you need to pay attention to your protein and carbohydrate intake.
Plenty of people don't give protein enough attention as they seek to build muscle and/or recover from hard training. You won't get very far if this applies to you: any bodily adaptation to training relies on protein for repair, recovery and growth.
If you struggle to get your protein in, consider a good quality whey, soy or protein shake.
We also need carbs. If we exercise a lot, we need lots of carbs. They are our bodies' many source of fuel. If you don't have enough, you simply won't have the energy you need to perform well as you work out.
Try adding some form of carbs to your shake. Some protein shakes will come with carbs added. Alternatively, you can blend oats, fruit or sugar when you mix it up.
Protein shakes are a great supplement to your daily routine. Try adding your higher carb one in before your workout, followed by a lower carb one after training. This will increase the flow of amino acids to your muscles, allowing for growth, whilst maintaining your energy levels.