Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Arms or Core Exercises?

Here's a recent e-mail I received:

Subject: Arms, or "core" exercises?

Question: Hello, I work in a department store where I unload boxes from tractor-trailers each day. I joined a gym about 3 months ago to get myself stronger as most of our lifting is bending over and picking up boxes, up to 150 lbs. in weight. One of my co-workers pulled a back muscle last month and he felt like it was a heart attack. Ouch! Scared everyone. He is ok now, but afraid to lift anything. He probably will be fired soon.

Anyway, at they gym, all the guys seem to make a big emphasis on arm workouts. They want big biceps and thicker shoulders. While the women focus on "core exercises" that they say is more important than arm exercises.

I looked up on the Internet what "core" is, and I get varying answers. Can you tell me what muscles are our "core muscles?" It seems to focus mostly on the stomach and lower back, but some even include shoulders, and others include our butt. None mention arms or legs.
I think that core is more important. Not bodybuilder massive arms. It seems to me that bodybuilders have too much upper body, and almost nothing on the way down below the ribs. A flat stomach looks good on photos, but I am guessing again that a strong stomach, not a flat stomach, is more important, including strong hips and legs.

Looking forward to your answers. Thanks for everything.

Response: Hello, The core is comprised of the central base of the body: lower back muscles, erectors, pelvis muscles, abdominals, rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder, scapulae (shoulder blades), and glutes. Not to limit yourself to these muscles, the core is made up of many more muscles that are stabilizers and antagonists. Specific "core" exercises can target these areas like PLANKS, HIP BRIDGES, WALL SLIDES, and SINGLE LEG SQUATS (I suggest you google these terms).

If your job is to lift things up off the floor, I suggest you begin focusing your gym time on exercising the body as a whole. Forget just isolating the arms--that is counter-productive and in time, may leave you in the same situation as your co-worker. I suggest you begin to include exercises such as squat, deadlifts, lunges, push-ups, and pull-ups into your regular workout. The object is to "condition" your body and become stronger. There is no need to simply strengthen the arms simply because they connect your torso to the object you are lifting. That is like having a heavy crane on top of a light truck or car--rather than a big rig!

Once you have googled the core exercises I have outlined above, begin to include them into your program also. I suggest you get with a good trainer at your gym and refer to these exercises for proper instruction. Once you become stronger (as a whole), you'll find that lifting boxes is easier and will reduce the likelihood of injury. Hope it works out and check back with me.


1 comment:

  1. Great description of the "core" there - definitely a term that gets thrown around a lot these days - Good to have a solid definition to refer to -


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