The core holds the body in alignment and allows the extremities to move in a more efficient and effective manner.
Core conditioning is the act of strengthening the muscles of the abdominals and torso. This type of work can tone and condition the abs, decrease lower back pain, and help the body to move properly both in exercise and everyday movement.
Core conditioning means more than just doing hundreds of sit-ups or crunches, it's about stabilizing the trunk and also engaging the muscles, both in the front and along the sides of the body, pelvis, and along the spinal column. Most people think of the abs as only the "6-pack", but actually this group also includes your glutes, lower back, shoulders, and pelvic floor.
Sit-ups and crunches are the most basic type of core conditioning exercises. More effective exercises are the plank, bridge, quadruped stance, overhead squat and medicine ball wood chops, to name a few.
Other exercise programs focus on strengthening the core as well, and these include yoga, Pilates, medicine ball workouts, and exercises that take place on a balance ball or balance board.
The core can be strengthened by performing simple exercises as well, such as push-ups, leg lifts, squats, and side plank moves. Most exercises help with core conditioning, if done correctly.
Always use controlled movements to prevent injury when doing any exercise move, including core exercises.
Keep in mind that core conditioning should be included as part of a combination of aerobic and strength training workouts. The combination will work the entire body, helping to tone muscles, increase strength, improve cardiovascular fitness and endurance, and help with weight loss or weight maintenance.
Aim to exercise approximately four to five days per week to get the most benefits, while still allowing the muscles time to rest and recover.