When most Marines want to improve their running performance, they run. When they want to build strength and muscle in their chest, they bench press. What most people may overlook is their core. A person’s core is the foundation for the entire body. In order to build muscle, a Marine must strengthen the core. There’s no other way around it.
“I have seen people come into my gym and just work their core and within a month their running, weightlifting and just about everything else improved immensely,” said Randy Edwards, a trainer and the owner of The Gym in Dallas.
Generally, when someone hears the term core, they think of six pack abs, but there is more. Core training targets all of the muscles along the torso that stabilize the spine and pelvis, which in turn supports the rest of the body, said Edwards.
“People consider core as the center of the body,” said Remy Kim, a personal trainer at Sport and Health in Arlington, Va. “Core actually ranges from the hamstrings and the glutes to your upper back.”
Core, being one of the most important muscle groups, is also one of the easiest to strengthen. The majority of core exercises don’t require weights or special equipment, but can be done anywhere with a little initiative and know-how.
“There are infinite amounts of core exercises,” said Cory Miller, a fitness trainer at Fitness First in Arlington, Va. “You can do crunches, sit-ups, variations of supermans, planks, leg lifts and more.”
Marines are athletes. They run, swim, jump and do everything athletes do, just in a combat environment.
Core training is valuable to Marines just as it is for professional athletes. Core training allows for greater efficiency of movement, increased power, body control, balance and reduced risk of injury.
“A strong core improves strength and the function of all muscles,” said Edwards. “It improves performance and gives you more stamina.” With so many exercises, it’s difficult to know which ones to do. Luckily, some core exercises work more core muscles at the same time.
“The best exercise to work the entire core is really any workout that requires you to be in the plank position, and being in the plank position and using a stability ball uses almost every core muscle in your body,” said Kim.
Once the core has been strengthened, developing upper and lower body will be safer because of the strong foundation that has been built.