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Fitness

Core Strength Exercises

Image of six pack muscles in a circle frame to support the text
Abdominal muscles

Introduction

Core Strength Exercises. The core is the central link between your upper and lower body, but it isn’t just your abdominal muscles. It’s also your lower- and mid-back muscles, and those in the hips, pelvis and glutes. The benefits of having a strong core can’t be overstated: you’ll be able to play sport without injuring yourself, maintain excellent posture, prevent injuries and falls, relieve back pain – oh, and have a lean midsection! Research shows that older adults with strong core muscles have better balance and functional performance, and are at lower risk for falls. If you have weaker core muscles, try these core strengthening exercises they will make a difference:

The Plank Plus

Plank-Plus
Plank-Plus

Core Strength Exercises. The plank is one of the most well-known core strengthening exercises, and for good reason. It works your abdominals, lower back and glute muscles. I make this move even more effective by adding a little plus that you may not have tried before.

Lie on your front on the floor. Place your forearms on the ground, with elbows directly under your shoulders. Place your feet hip-width apart with your toes tucked. Lift your body off the floor. Contract your glute and ab muscles, and get your lower back as flat as possible. Make sure your head, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles create one straight line.

The plus

Now, here’s the plus part: pull your elbows toward your toes as hard as you can. Your arms won’t actually move, but you should feel your upper body muscles contracting, and your abs doing additional work. Squeeze your glutes and quads as well, and hold this position.

Any of my new subscribers, who are just starting out in fitness, may find it challenging enough to hold this plank for 20-30 seconds. More advanced trainees can hold the position for up to a minute. If you’re contracting your muscles correctly, 60 seconds should be very challenging.

Alternate Leg Lowering

Alternate Leg Lower
Alternate Leg Lowering

Core Strength Exercises. This core strengthening exercise helps correct any imbalances between your left and right sides, and involves the muscles of the hip. This move can also help if your hamstrings feel tight.

Start by lying on the floor with arms by your sides and legs up toward the ceiling. Use your core muscles to press your lower back into the floor, with as much pressure as possible. Exhale, and take 2 to 3 seconds to lower your left leg toward the floor, while keeping your lower back in contact with the floor, and your left leg rigid.

If this feels too difficult, hold a belt, strap or resistance band around the foot of the leg that remains stable. Start with 5 repetitions per leg, progressing to 10 repetitions per leg as you increase your core strength.

Dead Bug Exercise

Dead Bug
Dead Bug Exercise

Core Strength Exercises. Once you’re comfortable with the alternate leg lowering exercise, give this a try. Start in the same position as the leg lowering exercise, but bend your knees to 90 degrees, and reach your arms to the ceiling (like a bug lying on its back).

Keeping your lower back pressed into the floor, exhale and slowly lower your right leg toward the floor while reaching overhead with your left arm. Exhale completely, then return to the start position and repeat on the opposite side. Start with 10 total repetitions (5 on each side), working your way up to 20 total (10 on each side).

Hollow Body Hold

Hollow-Body Hold
Hollow-Body Hold

the hollow-body hold is a very effective core strength exercise that can improve your performance and your form in many other exercises. It teaches full body tension and working your body as one unit, which is extremely important for movements like push-ups and chin-ups. This exercise is much more challenging and involved than it looks. It’s not just holding your arms and legs off the floor!

Lie face up on the floor with your arms straight and reaching for the ceiling, and your knees bent. Flatten your lumbar spine so there’s no space between your low back and the floor. Keep this pressure from your low back on the floor throughout the entire exercise. Now lift your head and shoulders off the floor, and slowly lower your arms and feet toward the floor. Your arms will reach overhead and legs will straighten. Go as far as you can while maintaining a solid position with your low back. Hold for a time as you continue to press your low back into the floor.

Start with just 5 seconds. If your form is correct and you’ve never done this exercise before, this will be challenging enough. Continue to work your way up to 30 seconds or more.

Please note,

For all of these four exercises, it’s important to brace your core muscles. Do this by imagining you’re about to get punched in the stomach, and brace accordingly, Do these exercises as one set you can try a second set if you feel up to it, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday both weeks

Video

In Conclusion

The core is such an important connector keeping the top and bottom of your body joined, balanced, and mobile. So then, your life can be greatly enhanced if you have a strong core. Also the chance of a life threatening fall is greatly reduced if the core is strong. Finally these core exercises are designed to help you get a strong core, so work at them and improve.

Important Note *

Remember that everyone is different, and it is ultimately YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to find what your body responds to. So please do your due diligence before trying anything new, including getting Medical Advice to ensure your safety and peace of mind.

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