What are the Different Types of Core Training Equipment?

D. Messmer

There are many types of core training equipment on the market. One thing that they all have in common is some element of balance. The core muscles are located in the torso and along the spine, so the most effective way to give them a workout is to put the body in a situation in which maintaining proper balance is somewhat difficult. This will cause the core muscles to engage as they struggle to maintain the athlete's balance and, in turn, the muscles will become stronger. For this reason, most types of core training equipment focus on straining the athlete's ability to balance.

Exercise balls can be used to elevate the feet during core exercises.
Exercise balls can be used to elevate the feet during core exercises.

One of the simplest and most common pieces of core training equipment is a simple mat. This piece of equipment does not create a workout for the core muscles on its own, but it is necessary for most Pilates and yoga workouts. Both of these disciplines place a large emphasis on core training, so having a good workout mat often can be a key component of a core training workout.

A yoga mat will come in handy for yoga or Pilates core training.
A yoga mat will come in handy for yoga or Pilates core training.

Another common piece of core training equipment is core training ball. These large inflatable balls allow an athlete to perform a number of different types of exercises. Athletes might sit on the ball while performing crunches or place their feet on the ball while doing push-ups. Regardless, because placing part of the body on the ball makes it less stable than if that body part were firmly on the ground, the body must engage the core muscles to maintain proper balance during the exercise. As a result, the exercise benefits the core muscles.

This same premise is crucial to the effectiveness of another piece of core training equipment, the stability ball. One side of a stability ball is hard and flat, and the other is soft and round. To use the stability ball, an athlete might place either side of the ball on the ground. Then, he or she places the feet on whichever side of the ball is facing up and can then perform any number of exercises. The rounded shape of one side of the ball, means that the athlete will have to work to maintain balance, and it thus provides the core muscles with a workout.

Balance boards and wobble disks perform a similar function. Both involve a flat surface upon which the athlete stands, and the bottom of the equipment is uneven, creating instability. A balance board can rock from side to side, and a wobble disk has support only in its center, thus allowing it to fall slightly in any direction. While standing on one of these pieces of core training equipment, an athlete can perform a variety of regular weight training exercises, such as arm curls, military presses or even squats. The added instability of the surface upon which the athlete's feet are resting will help to engage the core muscles.

Balance boards that rock from side to side can be helpful for core development.
Balance boards that rock from side to side can be helpful for core development.

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