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Kenneth Lo

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#AskKenneth 152: Core Muscles

You may hear someone said I would like strengthen my "core" muscle.

Actually, what is "core"?

Normally, this question is asked by an average Joe or a beginner. This kind of people always ask the similar question everyday. When they have a big belly, they would like to reduce it by doing tons of "core" exercises with many reps and many sets.

Anyway, here are my answers.

"Core" has 4 major muscle groups, they are:

1. abs

2. Lower back

3. Glutes

4. Lats

1. abs

Abdominal muscles (six pack) are not just for showing off, actually, these muscles are very important to your training.

Without bracing our abs, your body will swing forward and backward when you are doing biceps curl.

Without bracing your abs, you cannot do heavy squat and deadlift.

Without bracing your abs, you can forget about to do handstand.

Without bracing your abs, you cannot do even one rep of hanging leg raise...

2. Lower Back

Most of you also suffered lower back pain in the past, no matter you are gym users or office workers, it happens sometimes.

We have to strengthen our lower back and make sure it is "mobile".

Strong athletes can have very strong lower back, but they also suffer from lower back pain due to lack of mobility.

Some of you may have mobile lower back, but you cannot perform heavy squat and deadlift. It means your lower back is not strong enough.

Be mobile! Be Strong!

3. Glutes

In spite of lower back, glutes are one of the weakness muscle to some of you.

Glutes are our "Engine", that's why we can walk, run and sit.

Some people have lower back pain and knee pain because of weak glutes.

Glutes muscles include Gluteus maximus, Gluteus medius & Gluteus minmus.

When you're sitting for long hours at the office, your glutes are inactive.

Here is a tip:

Warm-up your glutes with DB RDL/ Back Extension/ Lying Leg Curl to activate your glutes before each training session.

4. Lats

Latissimus Dorsi (Lats) is one of our "core" muscle.

When the trainees are doing compound exercises like Snatches, Clean, Squat, Deadlift...they have to engage their lats to perform the exercises. Lats muscles like a stabilizer of the body.

Without engaging your lats, your back will be rounded when you are performing deadlift or squat.

Not many trainees know how to engage their lats when they're performing Back Squat.

Here are some tips:

Grip close!

And keep elbows down.

How about Deadlift?

When you are ready to lift up the barbell from the floor, please pay attention to your lats.

Make sure your lats are engaged before your lift.

Your lats can protect you away from lower back pain.

So, how can we strengthen our core muscles?

I recommend the trainees to do

- Squat

- Deadlift

- Pull-ups/ Chin-ups

- Olympiclifting (Please do not practice by yourself, you need a proper weightlifting coach.)

- Hip thrust

- Good morning


- Back Extension & all posterior chain exercises

- All rowing exercises like Lat Pull down, Seated Row, Single Arm Row...

- Gymnastic type of training like handstand, rings...


1. Deadlift

2. Back Squat

3. Front Squat

4. GHR

5. Variations of Back Exercises

6. Variation of Back Exercises

7. Variation of Back Exercises

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