A strong core is an important thing to have. It can improve your posture, reduce back pain, and improve your performance during sports and exercises. However, when exercising, most people tend to neglect their core. Below are a few exercises to help you focus on your core strength.
1. The Plank
This exercise engages all your core muscles. Lie down facing the floor. Lift your whole body off the floor so that you are supported by your forearms and toes. Keeping your body in a straight line, pull your belly button in and maintain this position for approximately 30 seconds.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and hands crossed over your chest or behind your head. Contract your abdominal muscles and lift your head and shoulders up off the floor, bringing your chest towards your thighs. Pause and lower slowly back to the floor. It’s important to perform this exercise in a controlled manner.
3. Ball Crunches
This exercise requires a fitness/Swiss ball. Lie with your lower back resting on the ball and your feet on the floor. Place your hands behind your head. Curl your upper body towards your hips. Pause, and return to the starting position. The extra effort required to keep the fitness ball stable is what makes this such a good core strengthening exercise.
4. Standing Leg Raises
Stand as tall as possible with your feet close together and arms by your side. Raise one leg until your thigh is horizontal to the ground. Pause, return your leg to the ground, and repeat with the other leg. Try and keep your hips aligned through the entire movement.
5. Side Bridge Sweeps
This manoeuvre can take some time to master. Assume a side plank position, leaning on your elbow with your forearm pointing forward. Reach to the sky with your top arm. Sweep this arm down and underneath your torso, reaching as far back as possible. Untwist and return to the starting position. Remember to brace your core and keep your hips high.
6. Core Climbers
Start in a push-up position with your hands on the ground, feet shoulder-width apart, and chest over your hands. Make sure your body is in a straight line, with your head facing forward. Without moving your hips, raise one foot and bring the knee towards your chest. Return your leg back to the start and repeat with the other leg.
This is another fitness ball exercise. Start by kneeling about 60cm away from the ball. Place your hands on the ball, palms facing together. Lean forward, rest your hands and forearms on the ball, and roll forward by extending your arms. Keep your body in a straight line. Pause for a few seconds, exhale, and return to the starting pose.
For each of these exercises, try to do 3 sets of 10 to 30 repetitions. Ease yourself into each exercise. Let me know how you go... and if you have other core-strengthening exercises that work for you, please share them!
Top Photo Credit: photogoose.com