What Is My Inner Core and How Do I Use It?
Written by Kaija Stern

Has your back ever felt a bit stiff or pinched after a day of pulling from the ground, hinging, or squatting? You could have an awesome movement pattern, great technique, and be thoughtful in the weights you are adding, but still feel pain the next day. What you may be neglecting is inner core activation. Below we will address what it is, why it’s important, and how to use it to feel your best.

What is the inner core?

When we think of the core, many of us picture the rectus abdominis. How many times have you wanted to get that lean, 6-pack physique? We use our outer core a lot in the gym: toes-to-bar, v-ups, candlesticks, rope climbs, GHDs, hollow holds…the list goes on. One of the primary functions of the outer core is to give your trunk movement and provide the overall stability. 

The inner core, on the other hand, gives your trunk stability at a more detailed level. Think of the inner core as a cylinder that wraps around your vertebrae. The top of the cylinder is the diaphragm – your primary breathing muscle which sits below the lungs and moves up and down to change the volume of the lungs during a breath cycle. The bottom of the cylinder is the pelvic floor, which is attached to the bony ring of the pelvis. If you’ve ever had to pee and are trying to hold it in, you are using your pelvic floor. The front and sides of the cylinder are made up of the transverse abdominis, which is the deepest layer of abdominal tissue. Finally, the lumbar multifidus wraps around the back. 

Why train the inner core?

Training your inner core isn’t going to do much in terms of your physique. However, training your inner core is going to help prevent injuries, which in turn will keep you in the gym doing what you love. A better inner core also means a better athletic performance: when you brace correctly, you will be able to pull more weight off the floor. Training your inner core will also help you to breathe better, increasing your engine on our conditioning days.

How do you activate the inner core?

Luckily, we rely on a lot of compound movements at Invictus. If you learn how to brace correctly, you will certainly be using your inner core enough with our programming. Especially on days where we are hinging, pulling from the ground, or squatting. Taking 5-10 minutes before class to activate your inner core will help you to brace better.

Inner Core Activation Exercises

Exercise 1:
Lie on your back. Think of pulling the fronts of your hip bones towards each other, or pulling your belly button into your spine. Perform 3 sets of 15-20 reps. 

Exercise 2:
Lie on your back. Try to tilt your tailbone back, or away from the pelvic bone, using only your muscles (no joints). There shouldn’t be any noticeable movement. Perform 3 sets of 15-20 reps. 

Other exercises that will strengthen your inner core include Kegels, Dead Bug, and Pallof Press. Drop us a line and let us know your favorite way to activate your inner core!

Also Check Out…

The Core: Abs, Spines & Everything Fine

What is Core to Extremity?

The Problem with Sit-Ups – A Gymnast’s Perspective

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