Whether you’re an exercise newbie or a lifelong fitness enthusiast, you probably hear one word over and over again. Core. Wondering about core strength and why it matters so much? Here’s a closer look at core exercises and why they’re a critical part of any comprehensive fitness routine, along with five core exercises to add to your workout today.
What are Core Exercises?
When most people hear the words “core,” they think primarily of abs. However, according to Breaking Muscle: “The ‘core’ is a term used to describe just about everything on your body that isn’t your legs and arms. This means you can think of your glutes, hips, abdominal muscles, inner abdominal muscles, pelvic floor, and scapula as your core.”
Your ability to perform all movements is powered by your core. Core exercises not only help various muscles learn to work together, but they also promote better balance and stability. These benefits aren’t just seen in the gym. From daily life activities to sports, a strong core is a major performance enabler.
Five Core Exercises
If you think doing 100 crunches or situps every day is the best way to strengthen your core, think again. Continues Breaking Muscle: “The crunching movement is a secondary function and one that’s not meant to be done at high volume due to the stress it puts on the discs of your spine. In order to train the core effectively, we need to train all the muscles involved, starting slowly and building a foundation. These muscles need to work together as a team.”
This begs the question, what exercises are best for strengthening the core? The good news is there are many of them. Says the Mayo Clinic: “Any exercise that involves the use of your abdominal and back muscles in coordinated fashion counts as a core exercise. For example, using free weights in a manner that involves maintaining a stable trunk can train and strengthen several of your muscles, including your core muscles.” Additionally, fitness ball exercises are also frequently used to engage and challenge the core.
You don’t need any equipment to give your core a wonderful workout. These five core building bodyweight movements are a great start.
While bridge exercises look easy, they’re also an extremely effective classic core exercise. Also called butt lifts, bridges offer a number of other benefits including toning your butt and reducing knee and back pain.
2. Side Plank
You may already be familiar with planks, AKA the ultimate core exercise, but this variation has plenty of benefits, especially when it comes to core building. Targeting the abs, obliques and shoulders, the side plank also supports spinal stability and upper body strength.
Just remember that technique is everything when it comes to maximizing the effects of core exercises. Sign up for a personal trainer session today to make sure your form is on point.
3. Warrior 3
Looking to challenge your balance while strengthening your core? Incorporate this yoga move into your workout routine. Or, take a yoga class to discover even more yoga poses which engage the abdominal muscles to build a strong, stable center.
4. The Dead Bug
It may not have the most appealing name, but it’s a favorite of many fitness experts, in part because of its range of motion benefits in today’s desk-centric society.
Certified personal trainer Adam Rosante told Women’s Health magazine: “Most people have a hard time raising their arms overhead without arching their back and have an equally difficult time flexing and extending at their hips without using their lower back. If you mindfully try to raise your arms overhead by isolating the movement to just the shoulder joint and can’t get one or both of them all the way there without arching your back and sticking out your ribs, it’s a good indicator that you need to work on shoulder mobility. This move helps you isolate the movements at your shoulders and hips while keeping your spine stable.”
5. Reverse Crunches
Just because a core workout shouldn’t be all crunches doesn’t mean there’s no room for crunches, especially reverse crunches, described by Fitness as having the potential to be “the best thing that ever happened to your abs.”
At the end of the day, looking better in your swimsuit is far from the only reason to move more. While core exercises certainly can help you pull off a beach body, they also serve a higher purpose of helping you be stronger and more functional in everything you do. To learn more about how to achieve your full health and wellness potential, sign up for a trial pass at Brick Bodies today.