How and Why You Need to Focus on Building Your Core ... and Six Top Core-Building Exercises
Your body has 29 core muscles, located mostly in your back,
abdomen, and pelvis, that work to give you a stable center
of gravity. Spanning from your pelvis to the base of your
rib cage, your core muscles are what help you:
Exercise programs such as pilates and yoga are great
for strengthening your core muscles.
Your core muscles are incredibly important because they provide
the foundation for movement throughout your entire body. Strengthening
your core muscles means that your spine will be supported
and your body less prone to injury during sports activities
and also during daily life.
Meanwhile, weak core muscles, according to the Mayo Clinic,
can put you at risk of poor posture,
lower back pain and muscle injuries.
Strengthen Your Core Muscles with These Top Exercises
There are multiple ways to build your core strength, one
of them being exercise programs such as pilates
Both of these methods work the muscles of the abdomen, lower
back and buttocks to create flexibility and strength.
Another option is to focus on the individual exercises below,
which will get your core muscles working together. The key
to developing core strength, whether through pilates, yoga
or individual exercises, is to make sure your core muscles
are working together (rather than isolating each muscle group).
If you are new to strength training, you may want to seek
the help of a personal trainer or fitness expert, who can
show you how to properly position and align your body to get
the maximum benefit.
The key to strengthening your core muscles is to perform
exercises that get all the muscles working together
(such as the ones below). Isolating the muscle groups
will not have as beneficial of an effect.
Lie on your back with your knees bent (feet on the floor).
Contract your abdominal muscles and raise your hips off the
floor, holding the position for five to eight seconds. Slowly
lower your hips to the floor, then repeat the move. For a
more advanced bridge, try extending one knee, then the other,
while in the bridge position.
Get on your hands and knees, keeping your hands below your
shoulders and your head and neck aligned with your back. Contract
your core muscles, then raise one arm off the floor and reach
ahead. Return the arm to the floor, then repeat with the opposite
arm and each leg. For a challenge, raise one arm and the opposite
leg at the same time, then repeat with the other side.
Lie on your stomach, resting on your forearms with your palms
facing down. Raise off the floor so you are resting on your
elbows and toes. Keeping your back flat, contract your core
muscles and hold for 10 seconds, then lower yourself to the
floor and repeat. For a challenge, try stretching out one
arm or leg at a time, or reaching out an arm and opposite
leg at the same time.
4. Side Plank
Lie on your left side, then raise your body onto your left
forearm, keeping your shoulders, hips and knees aligned. Rest
your right arm on your side. Hold the position for 10 seconds,
then repeat on the right side. For a more advanced side plank,
raise onto your left hand with your hips coming off the floor
and extend your right hand toward the ceiling.
5. Abdominal Press (the Push Away)
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat
on the floor. Raise your knees off the floor, keeping them
bent at a 90-degree angle. Rest a hand on each knee and push
forward while using your core muscles to pull your knees toward
your hands. Hold for six seconds, then return to the start
position and repeat. For a variation, place your hands on
the outside of your knees, and push your hands inward while
your legs push out.
6. Segmental Rotation
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the
floor. Let your knees fall slowly to the left, keeping your
shoulders flat on the floor. Slowly move your legs to the
starting position and repeat on the right side.
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