6 Core Exercises for a Stronger Midsection
There’s more to your core than sculpted abs. Many of us are obsessed with the aesthetic value of a flat six-pack but a strong core goes beyond looking good in a crop top. It's about maintaining your overall health and efficiency. The best way to do this is by incorporating core exercises into your regular training schedule.
The core is a series of muscles that surround the spine. It's your body’s support system. It acts as a stabilizer and a force transfer center that enables you to accomplish a wide range motion while keeping your balance.
Why Do You Need to Strengthen Your Core?
Core muscles protect your inner organs and your central nervous system. A strong core means better support whenever you move around. It helps your body function properly and ensures the smooth transfer of force and movement.
Never underestimate the importance of a healthy core. It's needed to perform the simplest everyday tasks, like sitting, standing, and walking, all with proper posture. It also helps prevent injuries, especially when you're working out and doing strenuous exercises.
If you don't spend time strengthening your core, you may be prone to lower back pain, muscular weakness, bad balance, and poor posture. A weak core can also make executing a variety of movements harder and will increase the risk of injury when you’re training.
A stable core is non-negotiable, which is why we should make an effort to strengthen it through a variety of core exercises.
6 Core Exercises We Love
We’ve rounded up some of the best core exercises you can do to improve your strength. These simple yet effective routines can be done without equipment and you can perform them virtually anywhere.
This is one of the simplest (but best) exercises for your core. It builds isometric strength, which helps sculpt your waistline and improves posture. There are many different planking variations you can do.
Considered the most popular planking position, this exercise is done with both hands placed flat on the ground and positioned directly under the shoulders — the same form when you’re doing a push-up. Ground your toes on the floor and squeeze your glutes to help stabilize your body. Keep your head in line with your back and hold the position for 20 to 30 seconds.
An easier version of the standard plank, this core exercise requires you to place your forearms on the ground with your elbows aligned below your shoulders. Keep your toes on the floor, with your head in line with your back, and hold the position for 20 to 30 seconds.
This core exercise works your obliques. To do a side plank, first lay on one side with your legs stacked. Push your body up with one hand for support. You can increase the difficulty of this exercise by raising the other hand up overhead. Hold the position for 20 to 30 seconds.
Note: to decrease the difficulty level, lower onto your forearm instead of your hand.
Crunches are one of the most popular abdominal exercises, and yet so many people do them incorrectly. To execute, lay flat on your back. Bends your knees, keeping both feet flat on the ground. Position your hands on the side of your head or crossed over your chest. If you put them behind your head, do not interlock your fingers. Instead, your hands should be gently cradling your head on either side.
Here's what many of us miss: actively push the small of your back down and lift your shoulders up off the ground. Contract your abdominals and focus on slow, controlled movements. Do not pull your head up with your hands, or you're losing the entire benefit of the movement.
3. Reverse Crunches
Reverse crunches work wonders when it comes to your lower abdominals. To do this exercise, lay on the ground in a traditional crunch position. Press your lower back into the floor, pull in your belly button to lift your feet off the floor, and keep your knees together at a 90-degree angle.
Pull your knees into your chest while performing a traditional crunch and then slowly lower your shoulders, hips, and legs back to the starting position. Repeat the movement.
Core exercises like the V-sit effectively hone your abdominals, external obliques, internal obliques, and your hip flexors. To execute this workout, start laying flat on your back. Engage your core, and in a slow and controlled manner, lift your upper body and lower body both to 45 degress. Reach your arms straight ahead, and hold this position. Remember, form matters!
5. Hip Bridges
Don't forget your core isn't just about your abs. Hip bridges are an excellent way to target other areas of the core. To start, lay flat on your back with your hands at your sides, palms facing down. Position your feet flat on the ground with your knees bent. Tighten your abs and your butt muscles while raising your hips to create a straight line between your knees and your shoulders. Hold the position for 15 seconds or more.
6. Raised Knee-In
This one is a great all-around exercise. To do raised knee-ins, lay on your back with your arms at your sides and your hands placed just under your lower back and butt. Keep your palms facing down.
Press your lower back against the floor and extend your legs outward. Your heels should be about three inches off the floor. Bring one knee toward your chest while keeping your other leg hovering straight above the ground. Hold the position for a few seconds before straightening it back to the starting position. Repeat the movement with the other knee.
These core exercises are excellent ways to improve your core strength. Add them to your regular workout routine and remember to focus more on control and movement — not on the number of repetitions.
Want to increase your workout efficiency even more? Here are two simple pieces of equipment we love.
The 6-Pack-Back Ab Wheel
Designed to improve your abdominals and lower back strength while reducing the risk of muscular injury, this ab wheel will effectively strengthen your core muscles and help you get six-pack abs.
This workout tool is made from high-quality hard plastic and steel and is exceptionally durable in withstanding constant use. Thanks to its foam handles, the wheel will minimize hand fatigue for easy control and a comfortable grip.
Gliders Slide Discs
Engage your core and facilitate better movement and control when doing lunges, planks, and a variety of other core exercises with these gliders slide discs. This tool will increase the intensity of your workouts and help you produce better results.
Want to shop all the best fitness gear and equipment and get more expert advice? Check out Exercise Earth today.