Ask the Trainer – May/June 2015

The “Core Triad”

As a trainer, I talk a lot about strengthening the core muscles in order to improve performance and posture, prevent injury and generally be stronger, fitter and faster. The core muscles are the foundation of all body movement and the key to success. However, for optimal health, I believe it is important to strengthen, what I call, the “Core Triad”. Holistically speaking, the 3 cores that make up this triad are the physical, spiritual and social cores. When all of these levels of your core are strong, it changes your whole experience. Let me show you what I mean.

Physical Core Our core is made up of a group of muscles which include the pelvic floor muscles, all of the abdominal muscles, the erector spinae (sacrospinalis) especially the longissimus thoracis, and the diaphragm. Minor core muscles include the latissimus dorsigluteus maximus, and trapezius. These muscles when strong, bring balance and stability to our posture and hips. They also help in efficiency, strength, power and injury prevention. For example, we rely heavily on these core muscles in running. When they are weak, we miss out on that glute involvement that gives us the push off power in the run. Weak hip stability can cause low back pain and inefficiency that can lead to injury. The core is also where the center of chi resides (2 inches right below the belly button). This is where our true power radiates exits. In a race when you are tired both mentally and physically, you can go to your center, your core, to gain strength. Physically you can tighten your abs, bringing strength to your body, visualizing the power radiating from your center, opening the flow of energy and allowing your body to be strong.

Spiritual Core – Our spiritual core is our essence and character. Our core values help to define our character and help us to believe in ourselves. For example, belief in a higher power, trust, honesty, integrity, love – they guide our behavior toward ourselves and others. Strong core values and a strong sense of self, helps us with determination, motivation, courage and strength to follow through on our goals. For example, these strong beliefs help us to get up early to train when we are tired, to go to the pool for a swim workout instead of going to happy hour with our co-workers, and to be consistent in our training and thinking in order to get where we want to go. Gratitude and a positive attitude help us stay in line with our spiritual core.

Social Core – this refers to our social network of family and friends, the people we chose to be around. A strong social network can provide comfort, companionship and support throughout life. They are the people who will encourage healthy behaviors and support our goals. When we are training and racing this could be our training partners, Team or Coaches that provide accountability and expertise that will help us stay on track, gain skills and a fitness for the race. These are the spouses or partners who will help take over household chores, help with the care of children or be a sherpa for you when training. And especially, these are your friends who won’t give you a hard time when you have to miss a party or leave early from a night out in order to prepare for the next day’s workout or race.

When these “cores” are working together it creates a synergistic energy that keeps us strong, motivated and in alignment with our goals. There is nothing more powerful when the “Core Triad” are working together. We increase our chances of success when we are in tune physically, spiritually and socially.

The next time you are thinking about taking on the challenge of a race, I encourage you to think about how your “cores” can help you reach your goals.

Whether you want to lose weight, run faster or climb Mount Everest, a personalized program is your best bet in achieving those goals. The hard work is always worth the effort in being successful. Let me know how I can help you with your journey and email any questions you may have to “Ask the Trainer” at And remember “PERSISTENT CONSISTENCY” is the key to success.

Until next time, train hard, laugh often, love passionately and have fun.

KC Carlberg, MPH and owner of Try Fitness Hawaii,