If you've ever spent time in the check-out line of a grocery store you've probably seen the words "Core Strength" screaming out at you in all-caps from any number of magazine covers. But how many of us know really understand what our 'core' is or what exactly makes it so important in the first place?
You can think of your core as the link between your upper and your lower body. It doesn't just include your abs but also the muscles on your sides (known as your obliques) and the back, and together these act as the body's main stabilizers.
Having a strong core will not only help your tummy look firm and fit, but there are a number of other important benefits as well. For one thing, a strong core naturally prevents you from slouching and helps you to adopt a strong & confident posture. It also helps to reduces the risk of low back pain, which often arises as a result of weak or imbalanced core muscles. Another important benefit of a strong core is injury prevention. Our core is the body's main support system and stabilizers of the body and many of our day-to-day activities (for example, bending, lifting, reaching) actually start from here. Improving our core strength helps to ensure that you are doing those movements properly. Finally, having a powerful core is one of the best ways to improve your strength and performance in all of your other exercises as it is the body's powerhouse!
Now that we know what the core is and why it's so important to strengthen it, let's talk about how to go about doing just that. The classic exercise that most people think of to strengthen their core are crunches. While crunches do work the superficial abdominal muscles in the front, the best core workouts will work more than just one muscle group. Here are a few exercises that make sure to incorporate the entire core, from deep abdominal muscles, to the back and the obliques, as well as the muscle that surround and connect to the core towards the upper and lover body.
- Plank to pike
- Side plank
- Hip lifts
If you are a beginner I would suggest doing 12 reps of each exercise and going through the circuit once. As you feel you’re getting stronger you can add another circuit to complete each exercise twice. If you are a little more advanced and aren’t new to these exercises, start with 3 rounds right off the bat!
Remember, go nice and slow, take your time to complete each move correctly while you get a better understanding of your body’s strengths and weaknesses. This set of exercises can be done everyday as the core muscles are our main stabilizers and can be worked everyday.