Core training plays a crucial role in the fitness regime. The muscles help with keeping a body fit and tone, serving as a pillar of fitness. Runners can benefit from improved stamina through quality breathing while other athletes can reduce the chances of pulling a muscle. As such, proper core training is known to prevent the onset of physical injuries such as torn disks, fractures and sprains among other debilitating problems.
Weak muscles in the core system are also responsible for slouching – so trained core muscles will pave the way for improved posture and overall muscles stability and control. Although daily activities such as ironing, picking something off the floor or simply sitting at a desk for long hours have some measure of impact on core training, they’re often of a negligible effect. Hence, it is important to add core-focused exercises that will condition your muscles. Here are some of the best core exercises that you can perform at your local training facility with little supervision. Time to work those muscles!
Core Exercise #1: Plank
Plank is one of the best core exercises that you can do. It is easy and extremely effective for core training. It serves as a perfect addition to any full-body workout.
Step 1: Position your elbows directly beneath your shoulder blades. Ensure that the upper body is well-aligned, or perpendicular to the ground. Ensure that your arms are not too widely apart as this might hurt your back.
Step 2: Keep your body straight from head to toe. This is similar to a push-up position. Tuck your shoulder blades together like you’re about to place them inside your pant pockets.
Step 3: Squeeze and add pressure to the front of your thighs and glutes. When done properly, you shouldn’t feel any strain on your back. The plank is meant to train your core muscles, away from the back region.
Step 4: Now, harden your abs in a reflex-like response in cushioning a blow. This will exert pressure onto the abdominal region. You should begin by holding plank positions for 2-3 seconds for 10 repetitions in sets of 2-3 and steadily progressing once you’re more confident.
As noted from the steps, planking is not simply a passive position as beginners might observe it to be. The exercise trains different parts of the body involved in core training, such as the back, shoulders and abdominal regions. Once you’re ready, you may consider advancing the basic Plank to focus on specific muscles in your body, such as the Side Plank, which strengthens flank muscles.
For a visual understanding of how the Plank is done, you may view this video:
Core Exercise #2: Bird Dog Exercise
The Bird Dog Exercise is a great help in relieving pain in your lower back. By doing this exercise, your core, hips, and back muscles will be strengthened. It is a good exercise that will help you to work towards adopting a proper posture and increase your range of motion.
Step 1: Begin this exercise by positioning your knees under your hips and your hands under your shoulders. Ensure that your back is properly aligned. This will keep your spine in a neutral position which will, in turn, engage your abdominal muscles to allow you to carry out this exercise properly.
Step 2: Lift your right arm and left leg from the ground. While doing this, make sure that your shoulders and hips are parallel to the floor. Stay in this position for a few seconds, and return to the original position after that.
Step 3: Repeat step 2 with the left side. This is considered one round. For the best effects, aim to do 3 sets of 10 repetitions, doing 5 repetitions on each side.
Bird Dog can be hard to do. Thus, if you are new to this exercise, you can start off by extending just one leg at a time to work on your stability. Once you have achieved this, you may progress to extending your opposite arm at the same time as your leg. If you are up for the challenge, there are many variations to carry out this exercise. It could be doing a set of 10 Bird Dog repetitions on the same side.
For a more visual understanding of how the Bird Dog Exercise is done, you may view this video:
Core Exercise #3: Side Plank Dip
The Side Plank Dip is a highly recommended exercise to do if you want a lean, toned, and define abdominal muscles. More specifically, the exercise primarily targets both sides of the oblique muscles. It also targets your side shoulders and lats. All you will need is an empty space. You can use an exercise mat for a little cushion for your arms.
Step 1: Place your forearm on the ground, perpendicular to your body. Elbows should be aligned directly below your shoulders, with palm grasping the floor.
Step 2: Place your feet on top of each other and raise your body to a straightened position. Make sure that your legs are straightened in that position.
Step 3: Dip your hips down towards the ground and raise it up higher than the straightened position. Aim to do at least 4 repetitions on each side.
For a visual understanding of how the Side Plank Dip is done, you may take a look at this video:
Core Exercise #4: Tabletop Leg Press
The Tabletop Leg Press trains core abdominal regions such as the transverse abdominal muscles that are often deep and inaccessible with other forms of training. This is an ideal exercise to do if you experience back problems.
Step 1: Begin by lying flat on your back and raising both of your legs to a 90-degree angle.
Step 2: Contract your abdominal muscles to press your lower back against the ground. Crunch up just a little and place your hands on the front of your quads.
Step 3: Drive your quads into your hands while simultaneously pressing them away. Stay in that position for 6 seconds before returning to the start position with your back lying flat on the ground. Aim to do 10 repetitions in a set of 3. Remember, if you feel the strain in your core, it is working!
To have a visual understanding of how the Tabletop Leg Press is done, you may view this video:
Core Exercise #5: Cable Wood Chop
The exercise is named for its close resemblance to the way lumberjacks chop wood. You’ll need a cable for this core exercise that trains rotational power, strengthen abdominal muscles and decreased pressure on the spine.
Step 1: Set up the cables, preferably at the height of the shoulders or chest. Ensure that they’re pulled tight.
Step 2: Begin by standing with the right side of your body facing the cable. Pull the cable with the handles towards the left side of your body. Ensure that you feel the pressure by the side muscles that resonate through the core. Once you’re done with the pull, stand straight and move your hands to the top position. Perform 8-10 reps, then repeat in the other direction.
You may break the monotony of the exercise by adding variations, in the pulling angle and standing position for maximum effect. The wood chop is beneficial for weight-lifting athletes as the exercise reduces the shearing stress that loads exert on the back of the lifter.
To have a visual understanding of how the Cable Wood Chop is done, you may view this video:
We hope that these 5 core exercises will give you a headstart in getting yourself in shape. Speaking of which, RAWactive offers specialised training sessions, ranging from a personalized training program to a small group training session, to assist you with your fitness training. Our expert trainer is here to guide you each step of the way in building your confidence and minimising injuries for your journey towards optimal fitness.
Contact us to learn more about how you can benefit from maximum vitality and performance in your daily life.