Having a strong core is important for so many different parts of your life! Yes, your abs will look great, but you’ll also feel more confident doing everyday tasks and fitness activities.
Building a strong core can take time and consistency, but the results are worth it. :)
When we talk about the core, a lot of people automatically picture their abs. Although your abdominal muscles are part of your core, your core is a lot more than just your abs. Your core muscles are made up of several different groups. They all play a role in supporting your body as it moves and functions.
Some people find it helpful to think of their core as a box. The box includes the diaphragm on the top, pelvic floor and hip muscles on the bottom, ab muscles up front, and lower back and glute muscles on the back.
Building a strong core is important to developing a healthy, strong body overall. Forgetting about core muscles can lead to injury when working out or when doing everyday tasks, such as lifting a child or gardening.
In fact, doing a lot of strength training without building a strong core can lead to improper movements and imbalances throughout the body. Exercising throughout the body is important, but you shouldn’t skip your core!
Here are a few of the ways strengthening the core can benefit your overall wellbeing and fitness:
Wanting a strong core for the aesthetics is OK too. There’s no harm in wanting nicely defined abs! However, remember not to focus on your abs while neglecting the rest of your core. Doing this can lead to an unbalanced core, which can cause back problems, poor balance, and a lack of stability.
Building a strong core means doing exercises that strengthen all parts of your core, not just your abs. This means you need to do exercises that target the entire “core box” — your abs, lower back and glute, diaphragm, and pelvic floor.
In fact, you should be careful that, when trying to strengthen your core, you’re not causing it more harm. Some traditional ab moves, such as crunches and sit ups, put a lot of pressure on the spine and require a lot of spine movement. If you have spine problems, consider avoiding doing moves like these. If you choose to do them, be careful, and remember to do exercises that work other parts of your core too.
When doing core exercises, don’t rush through them, as this can also lead to jerky spinal movements. Instead, focus on going slowly with the correct posture. Sometimes rushing through movements doesn’t give you the core workout you need.
There are many different ways to improve your core strength. These are some of my favorite and the most common core exercises.
Bridge exercises activate your glutes and lower back. They are good for beginners and for more advanced athletes.
To make this exercise more challenging, try incorporating a march into the bridge.
Although crunches can put pressure on the spine, you can do them carefully. If you have back or neck pain, consider avoiding crunches completely.
Some people like to roll a towel or blanket and put that behind their back when they are doing crunches or sit-ups. This helps support your back, and it forces your body to use your ab, not hip, muscles to complete the move.
Planks are an excellent workout for your entire body. They primarily target your entire core, but they also can benefit your arms, upper back, and legs.
If you aren’t strong enough to do a full plank, that’s OK. Start on your knees, and focus on contracting your muscles and keeping them tight as you breathe deeply through the exercise.
I love bird dogs for strengthening the core because this move targets both your abs and your back. It also forces you to use balance and keep your body stable, so it can help improve your coordination.
Mountain climbers add knee movements to the plank pose, so they are another excellent core movement. They also require balance, and they can help improve general stability throughout your body.
Doing a side plank with a rotation will help strengthen your arms, shoulders, and obliques. The obliques can be hard to target and many people forget to focus on them.
If you aren’t strong enough to do a side plank with a rotation, start with just a side plank. Remember to breathe throughout the exercise!
Leg lifts work your abs and lower back. As you do this exercise, try to keep your back against the floor and keep your abs tight. This will make the exercise most effective.
This move works your abs and obliques. Remember to keep your lower back against the floor.
If you struggle to complete this exercise, try raising just one leg at a time. You can also prop your legs against a wall if you need extra support.
The deadbug exercise works several muscles in your core, including your erector spinae, obliques, rectus abdominis, and transverse abdominis.
This is a basic Pilates exercise that is excellent to do if you want a low-impact, back-friendly move. They can be a great alternative to crunches, especially if you have back problems.
This move works your abs, lower back, hips, glutes, and legs.
Here are five of my most popular core workout videos which you can find on my Youtube channel. :)
My new G.A.L. program is also great for your core, as it not only helps you sculpt your legs and shape your booty, but also helps you tone your abs!
If you have any questions about building core strength, let me know in the comments. :)
Love Rachael Xx