What comes to mind when you think about exercising your core? Does it make you think about a flat stomach, chiseled abs, and lots of crunches?
Although sit-ups and crunches are an easy go-to for core workouts, they are some of the most ineffective exercises for strengthening your core. They strengthen only a few muscles and even while doing these properly, they pose safety risks and can lead to more back pain.
Engaging the core muscle groups with the right exercises stabilizes your body and improves your balance, and keeps your foundation strong.
What are the core muscles and why should I strengthen them?
We often put emphasis on the abdominal muscles when talking about the core, but it’s much more than that. The core is made up of a whole group of muscles that include the abdominals, obliques, back muscles, and glutes —all working together to provide support for your body and daily physical activities.
By properly and safely working out your core, you’ll:
3 of the best core strengthening exercises
Go ahead and do a victory dance with us —no crunches for you! Your core exercises should train multiple muscle groups at the same time to see the best results, and crunches just won’t cut it.
The following are the 3 best core strengthening exercises for safely working out your core, without needing fancy gym equipment:
Bridges target the glutes, hamstrings, and stabilizing back muscles (erector spinae). Your spine also benefits from these exercises as the engaged muscles support good posture.
- Lie flat on your back with your knees bent, and keep your back in a straight, neutral position.
- Raise your hips off the floor and keep your back straight so that your knees, hips, and shoulders are all aligned.
- Hold the position for 10 seconds, taking deep breathes.
- Lower your body back to the floor and repeat.
Planks focus on the muscles running vertically on either side of your abdomen (rectus abdominis) and the depper abdominal muscles (transverse abdominis), but you will also be working your glutes, quads, spine, upper back, and shoulders.
- Begin lying face down, resting your weight on your forearms and your toes on the floor.
- Line up your elbows and shoulders, keeping your forearms facing forward and your head relaxed.
- Activate your abdominal muscles and keep your body straight from your shoulders to your ankles. Be sure you don’t tilt your head or arch your back.
- Hold yourself in this neutral spine position for 10 seconds and then release to the floor. Slowly work your way up to holding the position for 30 seconds.
- Leg Lifts
Leg raises target the upper and lower core muscles, including building stability in your legs. These are perfect if you suffer from tightness in the hip flexors or lack core balance and strength.
- Lie flat on your back with your legs straight.
- Hold them together as you bend your knees and raise your legs, ending with your calves parallel to the ground and pushing your lower back to the floor.
- Slowly straighten your legs until your feet are pointed at the ceiling.
- Carefully return your legs to the ground from this position. Use your arms at your sides for support and control of the motion.
A strong core helps with simple daily activities like getting up out of bed, going for a walk, or even carrying your groceries. Talk to your Luna PT to get started building your core strength, so you can improve your balance, wellness, and regain your independence.