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Core Strength vs Core Stability

Updated: Mar 31, 2020

By Nikki Jarrett

"We want core stability, not core strength.”


Yes, I know, this seems odd.

Don’t we want a strong core? Yes, we do but it’s not what you think, so hear me out.

Core strength is important because without it you wouldn’t be able to hold yourself up and walk around.

However, strength isn’t always what we think it is. The main function of the core is to stabilize us as we walk, run, jump, pick things up, and do other fun and dumb stuff.

But, don’t you need strength for that stuff?

Of course you need strength, but if you cannot stabilize the body in any position or under load then your strong core is not working for you.

Most people love to do their crunches and sit-ups to get those defined sexy abs. Although it’s a good start, that’s not going to get you those sexy abs(thats a post for another time), or even a “strong” core that can produce stabilization during crucial times under load, i.e. moving a heavy washer out of the basement.

Yes, a 100 crunches a day can get you strong ab muscles. Or 100 side bends will build strength in your obliques. But the function of your core is to protect the spine from bending/moving/twisting in the wrong way, and it does this by stabilizing you.

Think of pushing a car. Or better yet, try it. Actually, DO NOT do that because you could get hurt and we wouldn’t want that. Go back to visualizing yourself pushing a stalled car out of the road. Your hands are on the trunk and you’re about take your first step into the car, what happens? You automatically “brace your core,” and that my friend is your core stabilizing you before you put load (the car)on yourself. Now, image that you didn’t know how to “brace your core,” what do you think would have happened instead? you would probably bend in half and I would venture to say you would be seeing a chiropractor or laid up in bed because you hurt your back (spine).

How would one train to learn how to stabilize their core and become proficient at it?

Utilizing exercises that force you to stabilize are best. Exercises that have you resisting rotation or extension in the core will produce the the optimal force that will engage the core. Once you can begin engaging to core, maintaining that tension will help build the strength and will allow you to be an awesome athlete in life! You could even become your friends “professional mover.” If that doesn’t sound fun to you, then I would not go around bragging about your new found core stabilizing powers!


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