You know core exercises are good for you, but do you include core exercises in your fitness routine? Core exercises are an important, often neglected, part of a well-rounded fitness program. It pays to get your core muscles in better shape, read on to find out why.
The best core exercises may surprise you. It’s not enough to just do ab crunches and sit ups. To build a strong core you need to exercise a variety of muscles.
Benefits of Good Core Strength
A Strong Core Reduces Back Pain
A weak and unbalanced core is linked to low back pain. Stronger, balanced core muscles help maintain appropriate posture and reduce strain on the spine.
A Strong Core Improves Athletic Performance
All powerful movements originate from the center of the body out, and never from the limbs alone.
A Strong Core Improves Postural Imbalances
Training the muscles of the core helps correct postural imbalances that can lead to injuries. The biggest benefit of core training is to develop functional fitness; the type of fitness that is essential to daily living and regular activities.
Exercises that Build Core Strength
Lie face up and place your hands behind your head, lightly supporting it with your fingers. Bring the knees in to the chest and lift the shoulder blades off the floor without pulling on the neck. Rotate to the left, bringing the right elbow towards the left knee as you straighten the other leg. Switch sides, bringing the left elbow towards the right knee. Continue alternating sides in a ‘pedaling’ motion for 1-3 sets of 12-16 reps.
Vertical Leg Crunch
Lie on the floor and extend the legs straight up with knees crossed. Place your hands behind the head for support, but avoid pulling on the neck. Contract the abs to lift the shoulder blades off the floor, as though reaching your chest towards your feet. Keep the legs in a fixed position and imagine bringing your belly button towards your spine at the top of the movement. Lower and repeat for 1-3 sets of 12-16 reps.
Side Balance Crunch
Begin with left knee and left hand on the floor, right arm straight up. Extend right leg so your body forms a straight line. Pull right knee toward torso and right elbow toward knee. Straighten arm and leg. Repeat 10 times, then switch sides.
Lay flat on your stomach with your arms out in front of you resting on the ground. Your legs should also be lying flat on the ground. With your head in a neutral position, lift both arms and legs simultaneously, as if you were flying. As you lift up your lower back should contract. Hold each movement for at least two to five seconds per repetition and depending on your fitness level do between 15 and 20 repetitions and work yourself up to three sets.
Lie on the ground on your side. Your shoulder should be in-line with your elbow. Lift and hold in the planked position for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat on the other side. Aim for three sets, each you will hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Switch sides and repeat.
Start out on the floor in a push-up position, hands shoulder-width apart. Tighten your abs so your body is straight from head to your heels. While keeping your upper body still, draw one knee at a time towards your hands, moving as quickly as possible. Work up to three set with each set being 30 to 45 seconds.