A strong core is essential for maintaining your posture, protecting your back and allowing you to maintain an active life without injury. Besides, who doesn’t want a nicely toned mid section and a tighter butt?
The “core” has gotten a lot of attention in the workout world the past few years. And for a good reason. Your core consists of more than just your abdominals. It includes your butt, lower back, and pelvis. Think of your core as a canister. With your pelvic floor muscles sitting on the bottom, your diaphram on top, and everything else in between. Our transverse abdominals, which lie beneath our “six pack” and wrap around our torso, are an essential player in most exercises.
Here are my top 4 exercises for your core that you can incorporate everyday. If you are new to exercise, these are completely do able. And if you are more advanced, follow the options to take these traditional exercises to a more challenging level.
Beginner: Start on your knees, maintaining a straight line through the head, shoulders & hips. Hold for as long as you can maintaining proper form.
Advanced: Start from your toes and add an alternate tap out to the side with each leg.
2. Bird Dog
Beginner: Start on all four, in a neutral spine position. Keep your belly button drawn in, engaging your core muscles to keep your lower back from sagging. Reach out with the opposite arm and leg, while keeping both hips parallel to the floor and keeping your core tight. Repeat 10-15 x’s while alternating sides.
Advanced: Stay with one side for 10-15 repetitions, reaching away, and then pulling the opposite hand and knee together. Switch to other side.
3. Dead Bug
Beginner: Start on your back keeping your spine in neutral position, or “imprint” slightly, pulling in through the belly button so your lower back is in contact with the floor. Take the opposite arm and leg away from your mid line. *Important to never allow the knees to come in front of the hips. (This will take away the neutral spine or imprint which we want to strengthen the core. Repeat 10-15 x’s.
Advanced: Take the arm and leg away on the same side, while maintaining equal imprint on either side of your spine. Or add a hand weight.
Beginner: Starting on your back with your knees bent and feet facing away from you. Slowly raise your hips off the ground, one vertebrae at a time, stopping when you are on your shoulder blades, or feel comfortable lifting to. Hold for a second and lower. Repeat 10-15 x’s.
Advanced: Cross one foot over the opposite knee and perform a single leg bridge. Push up and out from the heel.
These exercises should take less than 10 minutes. You will see a huge improvement on how your back can feel, the way you perform other exercises, and are so much less likely to injure yourself if you can incorporate these into your weekly schedule!
And to clarify a couple of myths……
Myth #1: Doing Core Exercises Will Flatten Your Stomach
Between your skin and your abdominals there is adipose tissue. These are cells that store fat so your body has storage of energy in a time of starvation. Very much like a camel that has the two humps on their back where they store water for when there is not water available. If you only focus on strengthening your abdominals, you will make the abdominals bigger but you still will have fat tissue in the way. If you want to flatten your stomach a well designed exercise program that includes core exercises and nutritional program will get you the results you are looking for.
Myth #2: Quantity versus Quality
Many people will say they perform 100 crunches a day in order to work on their core. It more important to perform 10 repetitions that focus on perfect technique
and target the right muscle compared to using cheating muscle to get the number you are looking for. Remember, quality over quantity. If you want to get the results
of a strong core, focus on quality. It is More Effective to do 10 Perfect Core Exercises than 100 Crunches.