Engaging Your Core the Right Way: What to Know

woman excercising

Working out yields more benefits than disadvantages. The only drawback you’ll ever experience is getting tired—and even that goes away as you continue your workout routine. 

During workouts, specific muscle groups are trained. One such muscle group is the abdominal muscles, also known as the core. Engaging the core is considered a fundamental practice when it comes to fitness. However, it can be tricky to determine how this should be done since it doesn’t work the same way for everyone.

How do you exactly engage your core? This article will shed some light on how to do it properly. Read on below to learn more.

Why It’s Important

Engaging your core during workouts helps to prevent back injuries. Failure to engage the core is a common mistake for beginners and advanced learners alike. In a way, it’s easier to learn how to engage your core by learning what not to do during activities. 

Some common examples of not engaging your core include:

  • Your back slumps as you’re sitting down
  • Your back arches while doing specific exercises, such as push-ups
  • Your lower back raises from the ground while trying to maintain certain positions
  • You lose balance when performing leg exercises

Engaging Your Core Properly

The common misconception when it comes to engaging your core is sucking in your stomach. It’s a misconception because it’s the opposite. To engage your core, imagine that you’ll be taking a punch in your stomach. This means tightening all of your abdominal muscles, not sucking your stomach in.

If you’re worried about breathing as you engage your core, you shouldn’t be. To accommodate breathing, you have to fill your stomach with air first, then inhale and exhale. Your belly should remain tight after your first breath. By this time, you may also notice your ribs moving in and out as you breathe.

During workout routines, even the simplest activities can engage the core. An excellent example of this is sitting during warm-ups and cooldowns.  You need to sit up straight, not arched. As mentioned earlier, you have to tighten your stomach. 

Aside from that, cardio exercises and yoga are the same as well. Both exercises, especially the latter, engage the core in movements such as planks and bridges.

Breathing Is Essential

When engaging your core, breathing is probably the most crucial part of the process. Breathing helps you conserve energy during your workouts, and it also trains the actual core itself. Whenever you breathe, you have the chance to engage the core, tightening the muscles from your ribs to your hips.

Powerlifters and weightlifters are often subjected to engaging their cores during routines. These athletes wear weightlifting belts to help with their lifting reps. If you notice, their stomachs tend to bulge over the top of the waistband—it’s not excess stomach fat but pure muscle. 

Engaging their core combined with breathing allows them to push against the weight of the belt, which supports the spine.


Engaging your core is one of the fundamentals of fitness. To build endurance, we must first know how to engage the core properly to get closer to our fitness goals. Make sure to keep this guide in mind as you practice! 

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