You probably have heard endless amounts of comments from people saying how they wish they had nice, chiseled abs, or that one day they were going to have a six-pack. Although there is a huge visual appeal to having a lean and toned stomach, there are also many other benefits to having a strong core than just looking good. Whether you realize it or not, our core supports us in doing almost all of our actions. It is also important to not that your “core” muscles are not limited to just your abdominals, it includes the entire torso, up until the arms and legs.
Strengthening your core is beneficial for everyone, at any age. By increasing core-strength, you may experience better athletic performance, easier completion of daily tasks, and a decreased risk of injury. There are also many other benefits to increasing your core strength, such as:
1. Improved Posture
Strengthening your core will not only trim your stomach down and make you leaner, but it will also help you to better support the spine. Weak core muscles can often be a contributor to slouching. By making these muscles stronger, you will notice yourself practicing better posture which will also allow for better breathing and better form when exercising.
2. Relieved Back Pain
4 out of 5 Americans will be affected by lowering back pain at some point in their life. Having a strong core allows for the back to be better supported making it less likely to experience back pain.
3. Increased Stability
As a person gets older, it is common to see a decline in balance and coordination, making even small tasks like walking difficult or dangerous. By strengthening the core muscles, it will become much easier to complete daily tasks and activities.
4. Better Sports Performance
It doesn’t matter what sport you play; your core is engaged in almost all movements for physical activity. A stronger core will only improve any and all movements that you need to perform.
By understanding how important your core muscles are, it is now good to know some of the best exercises that can help strengthen them. Keep in mind that your core is not only your abs, so it is necessary to do more than just one kind of exercise to target all of the muscles. It is also important to note that if you are doing these exercises to relieve lower back pain, it is necessary to perform these exercises daily.
These are a few different exercises that are effective in strengthening the core muscles:
Planks (Via Greatist.com)
1. Plant hands [or elbows] directly under shoulders (slightly wider than shoulder width) like you’re about to do a push-up.
2. Ground toes into the floor and squeeze glutes to stabilize your body. Your legs should be working, too — be careful not to lock or hyperextend your knees.
3. Neutralize your neck and spine by looking at a spot on the floor about a foot beyond your hands. Your head should be in line with your back.
4. Hold the position for 20 seconds. As you get more comfortable with the move, hold your plank for as long as possible without compromising your form or breath.
Ab Wheel Rollouts (Via Muellersportsmed.com)
Using an ab wheel, place your knees on the floor and your hands on the wheel. Slowly roll out as far as you can without losing your balance, then roll back in toward your knees. This is an excellent exercise for challenging your core stability and building strength. As you get stronger, you can raise up on your feet instead of your knees, further increasing the effort required to keep your body stable.
Bird Dogs (Via Muellersportsmed.com)
Kneel on the floor or an exercise mat with your hands positioned under your shoulders. Slowly raise and lower one hand and the opposite foot, then bringing them back to your starting position. Repeat on the opposite side. Perform this exercise several times, alternating which arm and leg you use each time.