Building a strong core can help improve your posture, balance, and overall strength. The core contains some of the most significant muscles in the body, which play a role in daily activities. Keeping the core muscles fit and strong can help support the spine and improve physical performance. Here are four core strengthening exercises to try:
Planks can work the abs isometrically, maintaining the stability of the core muscles for supporting the body’s posture and movement. These core strengthening exercises can also help maintain an upright posture while standing or sitting for long periods. Planks target several muscles, including the abs, legs, arms, and glutes, making it an effective total-body exercise. They help work the rectus abdominis, the abdominal muscles that run from the pelvis along the front of the body.
To perform a plank correctly, begin by getting into a push-up position on the floor. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles. Bend your elbows ninety degrees and rest your weight on your forearms. Your elbows should be directly underneath your shoulders. Hold the position for as long as you can. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
2. Yoga Poses
Yoga involves various poses that require balance, stability, and control, all of which engage and strengthen the core muscles. Among the several poses, there is spinal balance. This core strengthening exercise begins from a hands-and-knees position, where you pull your abdominal muscles inward and keep your lower back flat. You reach forward with one arm while extending the opposite leg behind you. This exercise engages your core as you work to maintain balance.
The boat pose is a stationary posture that helps improve stability and mobility. In this pose, you begin seated with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lean back slightly, lift your feet so your shins are parallel to the floor, and extend your arms forward. You can straighten your legs so your body forms a V shape for an added challenge.
3. Bicycle Crunches
Bicycle crunches engage both your abdominal muscles and obliques, the muscles on the sides of your stomach. This dual engagement may lead to a comprehensive core workout, resulting in a toned and tightened midsection. Performing bicycle crunches can also help reduce back pain. Bicycle crunches can also boost your coordination as it requires simultaneous, opposite motions from your arms and legs.
To perform this core strengthening movement correctly, you can start by lying flat on your back on a comfortable surface. Make sure your lower back is pressed down into the ground. Place your hands lightly behind your head and elbows flared to the sides. Lift your knees to a ninety-degree angle. To begin the exercise, bring one knee towards your chest while straightening the other leg, keeping it a few inches off the floor.
Simultaneously, rotate your torso to touch your elbow to the opposite knee as it comes up. Then, switch to the other side, rotating your torso and touching the opposite elbow to the other knee. Breathe evenly throughout the exercise and keep your abdominal muscles engaged. Avoid pulling on your neck with your hands, as the force should come from your core, not your neck or shoulders.
4. Mountain climbers
Mountain climbers can work multiple muscle groups at once. As a compound exercise, mountain climbers engage your arms, back, shoulders, and core. The core engagement comes from the need to stabilize your body as you alternate movements, bringing your knees to your chest. This constant stabilization engages the larger muscles of your core, like the rectus abdominis, and the deeper muscles, like the transverse abdominis. The speed of mountain climbers can boost your heart rate, adding a cardio component.
To perform these core strengthening movements, begin in a high plank position, hands planted firmly on the ground, shoulder-width apart. Your body should form a straight line from head to heels. Pull one knee into your chest as far as you can, then switch, pulling the other knee in and extending the first one back out. It’s similar to running on the spot, only in a plank position. Keep your core engaged and your back flat throughout the exercise. The motion should be controlled but swift, with the power coming from your core, not your legs. Your hands should remain stationary, and your upper body should do as little movement as possible.
Incorporate Different Core Strengthening Exercises
Strengthening your core doesn’t require equipment or any gym memberships. It’s a simple and holistic approach that can be achieved through workouts that target the core muscles. Incorporating the exercises into your workout routine can help increase core strength, improve posture, prevent lower back pain, and alleviate muscle imbalances. Engage in a well-rounded physical exercise program that includes a variety of strength, endurance, and flexibility training to enhance overall physical fitness.