“Core strength” has been something of a buzz term recently, but I admit — until yesterday, I wasn’t sure what the big deal was all about. Isn’t core training just a fancy way of saying toning your abs? Our moms used to simply call this “doing sit-ups.”

But there’s way more to core training than the abdominals (and getting a flat tummy), says Dena Stern, personal trainer and managing editor of I spoke with Stern yesterday about why core strength is so important — and easy ways you can add more of it to your workout routine.

What exactly is “core strength” or “core training?”

Core training does two really important things — it helps you look thinner, and it supports your spine and helps with things like balance. I noticed when I started doing Pilates and a lot of core engagement that it got easier to snowboard, or do complicated yoga poses, also. Those core muscles ares connected to your legs, to the way you stand, squat, sit. It’s not just about the abdominal muscles, but also training your back, your glutes, and the entire area that connects to your spinal cord and helps your body support your spine, so that the burden of supporting your body weight isn’t just placed on your bones.

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