When you talk about the core of an object, you think about the absolute center, the part that holds everything else together. If you’re serious about getting in shape, you need to think more about your core. Your abdomen and lower back muscles are the core of your physique. If you fail to keep your core in shape, the rest of your fitness goals will be hard to attain. Simply put, if the core is weak the rest of your body will follow suit.
There have been tons of exercises and programs developed over the past decade that put a heavy emphasis on core training. If you’re a member at a local gym or fitness center, they probably have a core training class available. You might want to take one of these classes, but you don’t have to in order to develop strong core muscles. It only takes a few basic exercises to start improving your core strength immediately.
Here are a few exercises that are simple to add to any workout routine to improve your core streng th.
• Planks. There are lots of variations on the plank, but the basic version does the job – if you practice it consistently. To do a basic plank, get into the top position of a push-up and hold your back and abdomen straight and tight. This isometric pose should be held for at least 30 seconds and up to two or three minutes. As you hold the plank pose focus on your abdomen and back muscles; don’t think about your arms. If you are having problems keeping your arms extended, you can hold the same position using your forearms flat on the floor as your base.
• Sit-Ups. A few years back the standard sit-up got a bad name. Everyone started doing crunches instead and insisted that sit-ups were bad for your back and neck. Doing sit-ups isn’t bad for you if you use proper form. Don’t yank on your neck or try to use momentum to get to the top. Secure your feet under something to provide stability and go through the full range of motion, even if you can only do a few. Sit-ups are great for core strength.
• Back Extensions. A lot of people skip over lower back training when they do core workouts. You have to achieve balance to have really strong core muscles. To do a basic back extension, lie down on the floor on your stomach and lace your fingers behind your head. Slowly extend your chest and head off of the floor and hold for a few seconds. Lower slowly and repeat. Avoid doing this movement quickly. You will be surprised how much stronger this movement makes your core muscles.
Add these three exercises to your weekly workout routine to achieve true core muscle fitness and strength.