Core strength was critical for cavemen and women who had to regularly lift heavy objects using multiple muscle groups, but in today’s society, we’ve lost a lot of that natural core strength due to our relatively sedentary lifestyles.
Building a strong and stable core is an excellent fitness goal. It can help you improve your posture and balance, prevent or reduce lower back pain and improve your strength and coordination for all athletic movements.
Despite what you may hear, building a strong core is not all about developing six-pack abs or doing crunches until the cows come home. The best core exercises are those that incorporate as many of the various core muscles as possible and force them to act in a coordinated fashion.
Following is a great core routine that you can add to your workout regimen. It works all of the core muscles and doesn’t take hours to complete.
The Plank – This is one of the key moves for developing core strength, and it’s easily customizable for various fitness levels. Simply assume a prone position on the floor, supporting yourself on only your forearms and toes. Make sure your back is straight and your hips are in line with your spine. Hold the position for as long as you can, take a brief rest and repeat 3-5 times. If you want to increase the degree of difficulty, try adding leg lifts or arm lifts while maintain the same position. You can also do this exercise on a balance ball for an even greater challenge.
Side Plank – This is similar to the plank except instead of lying in a prone position, you’re on your side, supporting yourself with either your left forearm and the outside of your left foot or your right forearm and the outside of your right foot. Hold this pose for a long as possible and repeat 3 to 5 times on each side. Be careful to keep your hips in line with your torso; don’t let them drop towards the floor. You can also add arm and leg lifts to increase the degree of difficulty.
The Superman Exercise – Lie on your stomach with your arms stretched out above your head (like Superman in flight). Raise your right arm and left leg as far off the ground as is comfortable for 5 seconds, then repeat with your left arm and right leg. Do as many reps as you can reasonably manage.
V-sits – Lying on your back, raise your legs to a 45 degree angle, raise your torso and reach out with your arms until they touch your shins. Return to the original position and repeat as many times as possible.
Oblique Twists with a Medicine Ball – Sit as if you were at the highest point of a sit up with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Hold the medicine ball in your hands and move from side to side, touching the medicine ball to the floor on each side. This exercise targets the oblique muscles and helps reduce those “love handles” that we all would like to see vanish.
Building a strong and stable core takes time, but the benefits are substantial and can help you look better, feel better and perform any athletic moves with greater power and co-ordination.
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