Core muscles are often perceived simply as “the abs”. This is partially true. But there is way more to strengthening the core then just doing some crunches. The core muscles reside deep into your body and are located in and around the pelvic bone, the lower back, hips, and the abdomen. Incorporating core exercises into your daily routine will increase your balance, stability, and posture. It will strengthen your trunk, support your spine, and basically make it easier to do any physical activity. When your core is weak, you are susceptible to injuries, pain in your lower back, and poor balance and posture. And what’s nice about core exercises is that they don’t require any gym memberships or special equipment. Pilates is also a great way to work your core and increase your flexibility.
One way to increase the potential of your core workouts is to keep your naval pulled in during your moves. Also, make sure you are breathing throughout. Of course there are many exercises you can do, but here are a few excellent suggestions. Start out slowly and work your way up!
Floor Bridge: This is a good exercise to practice keeping you naval pulled in. Start off lying on your back with your feet pulled close to your bottom and your arms flat on the ground along your body. Lift your hips as high as you can without arching your back. Keep all your muscles tight and rigid and hold.
*Modification: Lift one leg up at a time once your hips are raised. Hold your leg up for 30 seconds before switching to the next leg.
Plank Pose: The plank pose is one of the best exercises for your core. Lie on your stomach with your elbows under your shoulders, lifting your chest off the ground. Keeping your elbows, forearms, and hands aligned on the ground, lift your hips up. Make sure your back is straight, and not in a v-shape. Only the balls of your feet, elbows, forearms, and hands should be on the ground. Hold this position. Increase the time you stay in this position by ten seconds. Start off with ten or twenty seconds, and work your way up to a minute or more.
*Modification: Slightly raise one leg up at a time, hold, then switch.
Lumbar Roll: Lying flat on your back raise your knees up with your lower legs parallel to the ground. Keeping your shoulders down and still, slowly lower your knees to the right side of your body until they touch the ground. Keeping your body controlled, lift you knees back up to starting position. Do this on the left side. Repeat.
Bicycle Crunch: This is an excellent exercise and very effective. Start off by lying on your back with your hands behind your head. Lift your knees up and hold our lower legs parallel to the ground. Curl your upper body forward like a crunch, only twist and touch your right elbow to your left knee, while extending your right leg. Keeping your shoulders off the ground, twist in the other direction and touch your left elbow to your right knee. Keep doing this move until your abs are burning. It may be 20 reps. It may 100 reps. But work on increasing your limit overtime. The speed of this move it up to you.
Leg Lifts: Start off by lying on your back with your arms and hands at your sides. Beginning with you legs fully extended on the floor, slowly lift your legs up until they are at 90 degrees to the floor. Make sure to keep your legs straight. Then slowly lower your legs until they are a few inches from the ground. Repeat. Don’t let your legs touch the ground until you are done.
Superman: Lie flat on your stomach with your arms extended above you head. Keeping your torso stationary, lift your arms and legs up, forming a small curve in your back. Hold this position. Make sure your are taking calm, steady breaths throughout. Slowly lower your limbs back down, rest, and repeat.
*Modification: Instead of lifting all four limbs, lift your right arm and left leg at the same time, then switch to the left arm and right leg. This is a continuous move.
Even though core exercises are good for working out and toning, they will not rid the body of fat. Cardio workouts and clean eating is best for fat loss. So even if you are diligent in your core and ab exercises, you won’t actually see the results unless the overlying fat is gone.