People talk alot about having a strong core and then they do 250 crunches and call it good. They also wonder why their back hurts and their hips are tight even though they do so much “core.” I was at a gym the other day and they had a class that was 75 minutes long just devoted to abs. I think I would rather have a C section than do 75 minutes of abs. What is even more incredible is that these ab masters come in here and can’t maintain a neutral spinal position to save their life. What is core strength if not the ability to stabilize your spine while activating your hips. To some core strength may be muscular endurance of your rectus abdominus. Maybe if you can do 757 situps without stopping you have a strong core. Wrong and wrong. Too many folks spend too much time flexing their spine to make the muscles that support it strong and pretty when in fact most of the work that is done to support the spine is not done by the sexy six pack AND the work performed serves to keep the spine stable while other joints flex and extend. Think about running. While you run your spinal stabilizing musculature is working overtime to keep your spine from flopping around while your legs propel you lithely down the lane. Can you for a moment imagine an activity other than the sit up where you would only bend your spine? Not many. In fact often we are well served not to bend our spine too much while we are doing other things. Even sitting for extended periods of time with poor posture to be uncomfortable. What we want is to have the capacity to support our spine from the front, the back, and the sides from the top to the bottom. This 360 degree support system is what we are looking for in our core strength. Our core strength is only as good as our ability to provide 360 degrees of midline stabilization while exerting force. Say it with me and say it loud. Three hundred sixty degrees of midline stabilization. Your core probably feels stronger already just for having said it aloud. This doesn’t mean that sit ups are bad. It means we are looking for a broader spectrum of exercises to develop some amazing muscles. We need to work the front, back, and sides, with dynamic movements as well as static positions. We should flex and extend the spine and hip from the top down. We should also do it from the bottom up. Think toes to bar. We should rotate, side bend, and rigidly support the back upright or prostrate. Plate twist, side bends, planks, and walk outs. We should do them all and often. This will develop greater “core strength” than an unlimited number ab-tastic 75 minute belly burning crunch-a-thon classes.