The importance of having strong core muscles and controlling them is paramount. Every action or exercise we execute with our extremities (arms, legs) will happen by firstly engaging the core, and every load we pick up, or move with our legs, will transfer through it. Often this will happen involuntarily for daily, routine movements, and other times it will be consciously engaged in order to perform a certain exercise, movement or a heavy lift. Anatomically, the core is the musculature surrounding the lumbo-pelvic region, or in common language: the low back, hips and waist region. The abdominals in the front, the para-spinal muscles and glutes in the back, the pelvic floor on the bottom side, hip abductors and rotators laterally, and your diaphragm on the top. Two elements in the core to make a point on are: Strength and Dynamic Stabilization. Core strength refers to the muscle strength and endurance, and stabilization refers to how the muscles respond to a change in the center of gravity. The objective: to utilize your core muscle strength and endurance functionally despite changes in the center of gravity for the safety of your spine. Core strength is inefficient without proper dynamic stabilization, meaning that a six-pack is worthless (in terms of spine health and safety) if you have no stability. Stabilization requires a neutral spine, and the ability to move loads through that safe position in a controlled manner. Hence why no trainer under this roof will let you bend over and pick up a heavy weight “using your back as a crane” without being called out for it, if seen. That’s the recipe for disaster. At Fit Club, we want to promote and encourage the safest, heaviest lifts, that’s why you “drop your hips, straighten your spine, take a deep breath, open up your chest, engage the core and push with your butt cheeks and legs”, and NOT pull up with your rounded, vulnerable back. A little bit of education doesn’t hurt anybody, so here’s a word and concept to keep in mind: the Serape Effect. This is the concept of transferring stored energy generated in the core, into potential energy in the limbs. The inability to transfer these forces results in decreased efficiency or injury. And hey, CrossFit is all about efficiency… So, if you’d like some extra exercises or tips on how to strengthen your core, please ask when you see me next, I’ll be happy to help. If on the other hand you don’t want homework or don’t have time for it, just make sure that your spine is as straight as you can make it by engaging all those rear chains from the glutes and up your back before you decide to go heavy on the barbell. Ref. Core Stability: The Centerpiece of any Training Program. By Bliss, MD and Teeple, MSPT, OCS.