3 Simple Exercises for Improving and Strengthening Your Core
Want to be stronger, faster, leaner, and more balanced? Of course you do. One of the biggest mistakes that most people make when it comes to considering core exercises, is that they confuse strengthening their core with working on chiseling their abs. A true core-workout program doesn’t just focus on your abs, but instead develops a number of muscles attached to your lower back, hips, pelvis, and abdomen.
So if it’s not going to give you rock-hard abs, then why bother? There are a number of benefits that can be associated with a good core workout. First of all, developing your core muscles helps you to react quicker, allowing your body to absorb shock effectively and distribute stress evenly, so there are less aches and pains from a hard day of work. If you take part in sports already, then working on your core is a magnificent way to improve your coordination, flexibility, and body awareness.
The second advantage of strengthening your core is power. The most effective exercises that exist for developing your power, such as squats and deadlifts, need a strong core to protect and stabilize your lower back. By working on your core, you create the foundation you need to lift more weight without hurting yourself.
Finally, another essential benefit of working on your core, is long-term weight loss. The more you develop your core, the more you will be able to perform your daily tasks with less fatigue and effort. This means that you’ll have far more energy available to burn at the gym or on the field, giving you a lean and trim body.
So which exercises should you be focusing on for a strong core?
1. Crunches or Sit-Ups
Lie down with your back to floor using your yoga mat, and position your legs straight out, muscles tight, as though the backs of your legs have been glued down. Cross your arms over your chest, and pull your upper torso forwards using your transverse abdominus, while keeping your legs glue down tight, so that you come up to a sitting position. You can modify this exercise slightly by keeping your knees bent throughout the exercise.
If you’re not ready to do a full sit up, start with crunches, holding your abdomen the entire time. A beginner should generally start off with one or two sets of ten repetitions, whereas intermediates should move to two or three sets of 15, and advanced individuals should take on three to five sets of fifteen. As you increase the number, your core will grow stronger, and you’ll develop your six-pack at the same time.
To plank, simply lie down on the ground, or your yoga mat, with your face down. Put your toes and forearms against the floor and tighten your abdominal muscles, along with your hips, legs, arms, chest, and back. The aim is to keep your entire body straight, and you should try to keep your breathing as even as possible too. After thirty seconds of holding yourself in this position, relax, then lift again for another thirty.
Remember, your toes and forearms should be all that is touching the ground, and your hips and shoulders should be directly above each other. Repeat the entire cycle around three to five times. The plank is incredible for strengthening your core, and also improving muscles throughout your whole body for better stability.
3. Arm Sweeps
Sit on the ground and stretch your legs out slightly, before sticking them to the ground, your knees bent and your feet flat. Sit up straight, then stretch your arms out to either side of your body. Twist your body so that your right hand rotates to touch your left foot, then your left hand touches your right foot. This will result in a sweeping motion that engages your back and abdominal muscles.
Generally, the amount of sets you aim for will depend on your level of fitness, but beginners should start with one or two sets of ten reps, moving up to intermediate level at two to three levels of 15, and advanced at three to five levels of thirty.
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About Benjamin Roussey Benjamin is from Sacramento, CA. He has two master’s degrees and served four years in the US Navy. He enjoys sports, movies, reading, and current events when he is not working online.