The core is the part of the body that is working every single time that you move just about any major muscle. It is the central part of the body and it doesn’t just make up your abs, although they are a part of it. The body’s core acts as a stabilizer and has many functions, such as keeping you upright, producing force and providing movement and support to just about any other muscle.
Having a strong core isn’t just for athletes and bodybuilders. Every single person on earth can greatly benefit from having a strong core as it can improve health, flexibility and basic day to day functions.
Having a strong core has many benefits:
One of the main reasons for a poor posture is a weak core. The core helps to stabilize and provides support to your spine and your back muscles which help to greatly improve your posture.
The stronger your support muscles are, the less of a chance you have of injuring yourself. A stronger core provides your entire body with support and this ensures that when you are lifting weights, you are doing so with the least amount of stress to your neck and spinal cord.
Reduces Back Pain
Back pain seems to be one of the most common problems associated with the modern-day human. This is a direct result of a weak core due to inactivity and sitting for long periods of time at a desk job. When your core is not strong enough to keep you upright, your back must work twice as hard and this causes a huge amount of stress to your lower back and spinal cord, resulting in back pain and weak posture. Improving core strength has an incredibly relieving effect on back pain.
Allow for More Explosiveness
This one is for the athletes. The stronger your core is, the more amount of force you can generate. This means that you can be faster, stronger and much more explosive in your lifts, sports, etc.
The benefits of a strong core aren’t all just physical. Having a weak and tight core can cause your internal organs to compress, resulting in poor digestion, and hence, weight gain. Ensure core flexibility and you will experience an improved digestive system, which helps to better absorb nutrients such as minerals and vitamins and will also enable better blood flow to the stomach and intestines.
So, how do I improve my core?
I know what you’re thinking and no, crunches are not an effective core exercise, they just work the surface ab muscles and not the entire core that goes deep down to your spinal cord. You need to do functional exercises such as the plank, to really work your core to its…well, core.
Here is a sample core workout:
Hanging Leg Raises
Hang from a pull-up bar and then raise your legs up until they are parallel to the floor and then bring them back down in a slow and controlled motion, keeping your stomach tight.
Perform 3 sets of 12 reps.
The plank is probably the best overall core exercise because it uses pretty much all of your core muscles and works to keep you stabilized throughout the exercise. All you have to do is get into a pushup position, place your forearms on the floor, tighten your midsection and hold this position for as long as possible. Perform 3 sets for about a minute or as long as you can hold it if less. Work your way up!
These help to really get your obliques burning. Lie down sideways, place your elbow under your shoulder and lift your torso so that only your forearm and one foot are touching the floor (the other foot should be on top of the other). Hold for as long as you can.
Perform for 3 sets for about 30-60seconds on each side
Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Hold a dumbbell or kettle ball in front of you with arms stretched out, lean back so that your core is engaged and twist from one side to the other in a slow controlled motion, really squeezing your core.
Perform 3 sets for 12 reps on each side.