Part I: Definition
Recently, the fitness industry has been obsessed with the core. Almost every piece of fitness equipment or workout plan promises to deliver ‘six pack’ abs. In addition, many in the industry have began to emphasize how a strong core is critical for increasing one’s abilities to perform activities of daily living, improving athletic performance, and even preventing injury. Is the allure of having a six pack mystifying us about the importance of core training? Having visible core musculature is primarily a function of body fat percentage, and simply performing core exercises alone will not reduce abdominal fat (Vispute et al. 2011). Having a low percentage body fat means that one is likely to have visible core muscles, despite what the strength of those particular muscles may be. If core focused exercises alone won’t lead to a six pack, will they improve functional outcomes?
This three part series will be an evidence-based discussion related to the core, core strength and stability, and functional outcomes. This series will be outlined in the following way: Part I will attempt to define the core, as well as core strength, stability, and endurance; Part II will discuss the current tests utilized to quantify these metrics, as well as their limitations; Part III will discuss the current body of evidence in an attempt to define a link between the core and athletic performance. There is a significant amount of disagreement in defining and quantifying the core and its function; many authors use terms such as core strength and stability interchangeably, which only adds to the inconsistency. Therefore, Part I will attempt to define these terms and the issues related to them.