Having good core strength is not about getting a six pack. Think about your core as all the muscles from your shoulders to your hips that work together to act as a corset wrapping around your trunk (that includes your diaphragm)! A strong core is the absolute foundation of a healthy and functional body.
Not only does a strong core enhance your posture and stability, but it also prevents injuries and improves overall athletic performance. We’ve got 4 highly effective exercises for you to try to build a stronger core.
Core exercise 1: Superman
This is a great exercise that strengthens muscles on the back of your body. Lay face down on the ground with your legs together and arms outstretched overhead (making yourself as long as possible from your fingertips to your toes). Keeping your head down, lift your straight arms and straight legs off the floor at the same time into a Superman position. Then lower back to the floor with control. Repeat 10-20 of these Superman pulses. (If you have limited mobility overhead then you can bend your elbows so that your hands are besides your ears). This is also a great exercise to help improve posture.
Core exercise 2: Russian Twists
This exercise improves rotational core strength which has a lot of transferability in the real world (because we are always twisting and turning our bodies).
Sit on the floor and lean backwards slightly with the knees bent at 90 degrees. Pick up an object you can hold in both hands (e.g. a ball, bumper plate, backpack with books in it). Holding the object, twist your shoulders so you can tap the object to the ground beside your legs. Then rotate to the other side, and tap the object to the ground. This creates a twisting motion moving side to side, tapping the weighted object to the ground with control. Start with 10 twists, and build up to 20-30 twists. You can make the object heavier as you get stronger. And you can lift the feet off the ground for an extra level of challenge.
Core exercise 3: Planks
A great go-to move for core strength. By holding a plank position, you engage not only your abdominal muscles but also your lower back, arms, shoulders, and glutes. Remember: keep a straight line from head to heels, and don’t let your hips sag or stick up.
Practice side planks too to target the oblique muscles, by either balancing on your elbow & forearm, or with your arm straight on one hand). For a less intense option, do a side plank on your knees.
Planks can be modified to suit different fitness levels, making them accessible and beneficial for everyone. Try a 20 second hold in each position (front plank, left side plank, right side plank) building up to 45-60 seconds in each position.
Core exercise 4: Hanging knee raise
You’ll need a pull up bar for this one. If you don’t have access to a gym, then check out your local park to see if there is a pull up bar in the playground you can use. This exercise will build strength in your abdominal muscles and upper back, as well as improving your grip strength and shoulder mobility.
Find a bar that you can hold onto with feet touching the ground. Start by hanging with straight arms, feet on the ground (you may need to bend your knees). Hold on tight, then try raising both knees at the same time as high as you can. The goal is to get the knees parallel with the hips, or higher. Return both feet to the ground together with control. Repeat 10 times.
Having your feet supported by the ground is a great way to start learning this movement. As your grip strength improves and you feel confident holding your body weight on the bar, you can advance this so your feet remain off the ground for 10 reps.
Try incorporating these 4 core exercises into your workout routine. Some of them you could do while watching TV! Don’t forget to focus on maintaining proper form and moving slowly for the best results. Start simple and build up the intensity, time and repetitions over time.
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