Fed up of millions of sit ups and crunches? Have no fear…
Many people think that the best way to strengthen their core is to crunch all day long, which feels like a chore. Well, this is simply not the case and I am going to explain why.
The muscles of the core make up what some people call the “tin can” the abdominal muscles in the front, the obliques and transversals abdominals around the sides, the spinal muscles and latissimus dorsi around the back, then the diaphragm makes up the top of the can and the pelvic floor is the bottom (in simple terms). So to strengthen the core we need to be thinking about working on all of these muscles… not really achieved by endless crunches and sit ups.
There are three way the torso can move and it is a good idea to work all three types of movement. You have back extension and flexion- bending forward or backwards, side flexion- bending to the side, and rotation- twisting (an important one for strengthening the muscles around the spine for protection).
So here is some examples of different core exercises you can work into your exercise routines or programmes and a little info as to what they are doing.
*You may notice that you will be constantly reminded to keep breathing, this is KEY! You would be surprised at how often people hold their breath while performing core exercises…this is not the way! To really strengthen your core you need to ensure you breathing mechanisms are still able to function as you are performing the exercises.
Yes, this is primarily a lower body exercise. However! By putting urself in a split stance you are throwing off your balance and challenging your core muscles just to keep yourself upright!
This exercise is harder than it looks….if you are doing it right. Start in a table top position thinking about keeping your belly button to your spine- while still being able to breath! Then straighten the right arm and left leg, while maintaining your torso position- and still breathing! Then repeat on the other side.
This is seen as a back exercise but incorporates many of the core muscles all at once. Start in a full plank position with a dumbbell in each hand. This already is an isometric core exercise, keep that core engaged and keep breathing! Then pull one elbow back toward until the dumbbell is roughly at the hip like a single arm bent over row. Again the aim is the keep the body position and not let the hips twist. Then repeat with the other arm.
Plank kick backs
Similar challenge as the renegade row, however this time you are starting in a plank position on the forearms/ elbows. You are then going to raise on leg up, nice and controlled, then lower it to the ground and repeat on the other leg. Again keep the hips straight and the core engaged…and keep breathing!
Slow Mountain Climbers
In a full plank position (hands can be either on the floor or on a bench) bring one knee in towards your chest while maintaining the torso position, then return to the original position, performing this in a slow and controlled way can be more challenging as your body spends more time under tension.
Same thing as the last exercise but much quicker, the speed will now challenge your form, try to keep that position strong! The speed will also add a cardio element to the exercise and get your pulse raised!
Start in a table top position, tuck your toes under then raise your knees just off the floor. You are now going to crawl toward then backward but you want to keep your hips and knees in the same position, not letting them raise any higher! Not letting the hips twist and the knees rise up is the hard part.
Try adding these to one of your workout sessions to give your core a new challenge!