How much do you know about the ‘true core’? True core strength goes much deeper than surface abs and six-packs. Responsible for balance and all-round stability, the true core connects your abdominal muscles, pelvic floor and posterior chain.

Many people mistakenly believe that core work is all about abs. Crunches alone may be great for external definition, but they don’t address deeper core strength and can actually make back pain worse.

In our experience, building up a solid foundation of true core strength makes almost every physical pursuit easier and more satisfying.

People walk taller and breathe more deeply after they have worked on their true core because it strengthens the spine. It’s fantastic for improving your running technique (stability), and it also supports your yoga practice (balance) – particularly when cultivating your tree and bow poses.

How to work it

To strengthen your true core, we suggest swapping sit-ups for planks, side planks and bridges. Reformer Pilates works wonders – particularly when you assume the table top position – and there are plenty of moves you can do with no equipment at all (see above and below).

Balance-based exercises like push-ups and lunges help strengthen your true core while they work your pecs, shoulders, thighs and glutes. Relatively simple moves like the bird-dog crunch and segmental rotations are also good options.