What is Core Training? Understanding the Mid-Section

by Aaron Pressley Galvin on 20th December,2018

What is Core Training? Understanding the Mid-Section

The word Core training gets thrown around a lot in the gym these days, more and more in recent years. People constantly say I'm training the core or I'm hitting core in gym without truly understanding which muscles they are training and why. Referring to your mid-section simply as the “core” is a vast understatement.

I always educate my clients to the difference and the benefits of each muscle group of the mid-section. Its very important to know the difference between each muscle group so you can effectively train them. Understanding the how and why your training the midsection will make all the the difference when trying to get results. 


 Uncommon Knowledge

There are so many muscles within the mid-section that it would take a medical journal to cover them all so here I will highlight what I think are the main muscles groups to focus on. The mid-section is made of many different muscles, to make it easier to understand, Imagine two separate layers of muscles - an external layer (closer to your skin) and an internal layer (closer to your organs). The external muscles like the Abdominals, External Obliques and Erector Spinae and the internal ones like, the Transverse Abdominals, Pelvic Floor, and the Multifitus. Its the internal muscles groups which are more so the "core".



Functions of the Mid-section

The external muscle groups......

The Abdominals, (six pack muscles) main function is to create flexion of the trunk or forward bending of the torso. I.e. Crunches & Sit-ups.


The purpose of the External & Internal Obliques (sides/love handle area) is to rotate and laterally bend the trunk/torso i.e. Russian twists or Side plank hip-dips.


The Erector Spinae (lower back) is responsible for extension movements or backward bending of the trunk/torso I.e hyper extensions and lifting anything from the floor involve our back muscles.

The lower back is one of the most important muscles of the mid-section since its does most of our daily work like lifting and bending. Because back problems are the most common injury amongst the population I believe that lower back training is the most important factor to having a strong and healthy pain free spine.


The internal muscle groups......

The Transverse Abdominals are really what you can call the “Core”. Imagine an internal corset and imagine the strings are drawn tightly and its gently squeezing in on your internal organs and supporting your mid-section to remain upright and firm.

Thats basically the effect you can expect when you train these muscle groups. This is very important for post pregnancy women and any guy looking to flatten a beer belly!


The Pelvic Floor muscles (located underneath the organs in the pelvis) are there to suspend and keep your internal organs and reproductive organs in women, in a healthy natural position. They also help with intra-abdominal pressure when lifting weights/loads which helps to prevent ruptures or hernias. They also help with continence/incontinence issues in some people.


The Multifitus are tiny muscles spread throughout the spinal column, running from the bottom of the spine to mid back level. These muscles help keep the spine strong, straight and upright and helps with weight bearing exercises and can protect against spinal joint damage.


Training the Mid-section

Here im going to pick what I think are the most effective exercises which you can integrate into your own mid-section workouts in the gym.

  1. Front Plank (Transverse ABs, Pelvic floor) – 1 sets x hold for 1-2 mins

  2. Double Crunch (Abdominals) – 1 set x 20 reps

  3. Side Plank + hip-dips (Transverse Abs, Ext. Obliques) – 1 set x 15-20 reps per side

  4. Lying back extension (Erector Spinae, Multifidus) 1 set x 15-20 reps


*Repeat this workout twice, going from exercise 1 to 4 in two rounds, do twice per week I.e. Monday & Thursday.

*Front plank and Side plank hip-dips exercise demo's can be found on my video gallery.

- APG.


Last Modified: Thursday 20th December 2018