Exercises that Work the Core
We see the term ‘core’ fairly frequently in anything related to the health and fitness world. But, it’s usually one of the muscles we forget and work less, so we think you may be interested to know a series of exercises that work the core.
But, what is the core?
The muscles on the wall of your abdomen that form part of the core are the most important in the body, due to the area they span and the different functions they have for the torso.
Often, when talking about ‘abdominals’ we mean six-pack (the rectus abdominis). This muscle defines the waist and has the shape of a chocolate bar.
Although this looks quite good, aesthetically, from a sporting performance point of view – one that considers the mechanics of movement – having such defined abs, isn’t particularly useful to us.
It’s actually the layers of muscles underneath that really matter when it comes to the core. These provide the spine with stability and improve the way we conduct our strength.
From an anatomical point of view, these muscles are arranged in layers that wrap around the torso, with different abilities and specific actions.
Why should we work our core?
Having a strong core is the basis for having good control over our posture. It lends itself to improving strength, due to the fact that we use these muscles in everyday life. Also, as part of any sporting discipline that we may want to practice.
It’s for this reason that we propose a series of exercises that’ll help you work your glutes, lumbar square (a muscle in your lower back), and abs, among others.
Ideally, you should do three series of each of these exercises with the repetitions we suggest, without resting between exercises – leave that for the end of each series.
Exercises to work the core
With your elbows at 90 degrees and your feet hip-width apart, hold this position for 40 seconds. It’s important you focus on keeping your abs strong and tight. This is what really makes the difference! We should avoid making a tent shape with our bodies or allowing our backs to dip.
The side plank
Although a similar exercise to the one above, this one requires isometric contraction. With your elbow at 90 degrees and your torso well aligned, keep your abs in and avoid letting them drop past your hip during the 25 seconds you hold it for on each side.
The side plank, with circles
Again, this is similar to the previous exercises, but here we add a variation that makes it slightly more difficult for our glutes.
With your legs outstretched, make small circles with the point of your foot, as if it were a pencil. It’s essential that your foot is stretched out and you keep your abs tight. Make ten circles on each side.
Glute bridge/hip raises
This exercise is fundamental to working your behind. With your arms stretched out and strong against the ground at each side of your body, raise your hips from the floor whilst you tightly clench your glutes as if you were trying to hide a $10 dollar bill that was hidden between them!
Do 15 repetitions of this exercise; raising and lowering your hips in a controlled way, fitting and unfitting each vertebra.
Plank with outstretched arms and a glutes kick
Start in a regular plank position with your arms stretched – they should be shoulder-width apart.
Keep your back straight and raise one leg at a time. It’s important to keep your concentration focused on ensuring your back’s stable and that your glutes are tight throughout the exercise. Do ten repetitions for each leg.
Alternate leg and arm extension
Extend one leg and the opposite arm at the same time; the objective for this exercise is to work on stability, which is why we recommend you do it slowly, controlling every impulse.
It’s easy to feel the muscles you’re working on if you squeeze your glutes hard and keep your abs contracted during each of the sixteen recommended repetitions.
We’ve recommended these exercises to help you keep a strong and well-trained core. However, there are different types and variations of these exercises, as you’ll see in future articles. If you have a favorite workout routine, we’d love to hear about it in the comments below!It might interest you...