In fitness, the term “the core” often conjures images of chiselled six-pack abs and rigorous ab crunches. While a strong and defined midsection is a visual representation of a robust core, it barely scratches the surface of the multiple roles the core plays in our body’s movements. In this blog, we take a holistic approach to the core and discuss its various movements and functions beyond the realm of traditional ab exercises.

Movements and Muscles of the Core:

Trunk Flexion and Extension

Trunk flexion is your classic “ab-crunch” movement that involves the rectus abdominis (the 6-pack abs!) and involves bending the spine forward.

Trunk extension involves straightening or arching the spine backwards and occurs in movements such as the back hyperextension. Trunk extension occurs because of the contraction of the erector spinae and multifidus muscles.

Lateral Trunk Flexion

Lateral trunk flexion involves bending the torso to one side. This type of movement engages the obliques, rectus abdominis and erector spinae.

Trunk Rotation

Trunk rotation typically involves twisting of the torso. This type of movement engages the obliques and quadratus lumborum muscles. We often forget how much the core is involved in twisting motions.


Spinal stabilisation holds your spine in a stable position during movement and balance activities. Typically, a range of muscles are used to perform stabilisation and different “core” muscles will be used in different situations.

Holistic Core Training:

To truly unlock the full potential of the core it is important to take a holistic view to core training. While targeted ab exercises are great, incorporating a range of different movements that challenge the various ranges of motion shown above will ensure a well-rounded and functional foundation. A well-rounded foundation ensures movement is efficient not only in sport and fitness, but in daily life.

This doesn’t mean you have to have to train your core hard! It can be as simple as adding an exercise or two to your main workouts in the gym. Below are some exercises you can start with…

Bench Side Bends

A great exercise for lateral flexion of the torso utilising often forgotten about muscles.

Landmine Kneeling Woodchop

A super exercise for working the obliques in rotational motion of the torso. We forget how much we twist and bend in our daily lives, why not train it with this!

If you want more exercises like the above or think some of your injuries are related to a lack of proper core control, speak to the TFD Therapy team and they will be happy to help you.