Maintaining your core is important to support all fitness routines and to help you achieve physical goals. A weak core makes it much harder to keep going and to achieve your full potential, whether you’ve set yourself a running, walking, cycling or swimming challenge.
BEST EXERCISES FOR YOUR CORE
1. THE IMPORTANCE OF YOUR CORE
The core area is your abs and your back and it keeps everything in place and supports your body. Therefore, core exercises are fundamentals for anybody who does a sport or goes to the gym; if you haven’t got a strong core, you can’t function. The majority of people unfortunately don’t work on their core, and this can lead to injuries or lack of efficiency when doing their chosen sport.
2. HOW TO STRENGTHEN YOUR CORE
The function of your core is primarily to stabilise the thorax and pelvis during functional movements. When people think of core they automatically think of abs, but the core is much more than just the abs on the surface. It’s a combination of deep anterior abdominal muscles, posterior trunk muscles and pelvic muscles, i.e. glutes. With this in mind, you don’t need to be doing a 100 sit ups to have a strong core; it’s much more subtle than that.
There are a number of core exercises that you can do in the comfort of your own home but remember that, without instruction, like all exercises you carry these out at your own risk. Here are four core exercises to try, but if you have any injuries or concerns you really should talk to a professional before giving them a go on your own.
Fortunately, working on your core doesn’t require gym equipment and can be performed in the comfort of your own home. One great exercise that is very easy to do would be a plank. It doesn’t require a lot of knowledge and almost anyone can do it, with minimal risk of injury and with variations to make it more or less challenging.
Start by lying on your front, place your forearms on the floor, lift your pelvis off the ground whilst leaning on your forearms and up on to your toes. At this point your hips should be in line with the rest of your body. Keep your glutes and bum tight and suck your tummy in. Hold it for 30 seconds.
Lying on your back, bend your knees and place the soles of your feet on the ground. Place your arms by your side, palms down. Then squeeze your glute and suck your tummy in, then push your hips up towards the ceiling.
Lying on your side, forearm on the floor, elbow in line with shoulder, place one leg on top of the other then lift your hips off the ground and hold for as long as possible and repeat.
In a press up position, bend one knee and bring that leg towards your chest, then the other.
3. PROGRESSING YOUR CORE EXERCISES
When you have mastered each of the exercises, you can increase the amount of time you do each one for and the number of repetitions. If you are going to invest in a swiss ball/gym ball, you can progress the exercises further using it for these exercises; the added instability will make you work your core harder.
4. WHAT TO AVOID
A lot of people think sit ups are the best way to work on your core, but starting them furiously can be a mistake; most of the time they’re not done properly, which means you’re wasting your energy and you’re not working on your core. I get a lot of clients who tell me when they first start working with me that they’ve been doing sit ups on their own at home, but they haven’t achieved anything with them.