While we all want to rock six pack abs at the beach, it’s actually important to your physical health to have a strong core. You don’t need to attain clearly defined ab muscles; however, you should regularly incorporate ab exercises into your fitness routine. With the help of some experts in the fitness industry, we’ve rounded up the top four benefits of strengthening your core.
1. Spinal Stability & Improved Posture
Strengthening your core means strengthening your front abdominal muscles as well as the side and back, which all support your spine. Chris Cooper, a NSCA certified personal trainer and Precision Nutrition Coach, is a proponent of core strength for spinal stability. “Now this doesn’t mean crunches and sit-ups, but working against movement. Exercises like planks, side planks, suitcase carries and pallof presses all fall under that category of being ‘anti’ core exercises. Focusing on spinal stability can help keep your back healthy and pain free,” said Cooper.
Furthermore, a stabilized spine means you’ll be standing up straighter. Rick Rockwell, a personal trainer and supplement consultant added, “many people sit or stand hunched over or with other variations of proper posture. Strengthening your core can help improve posture and decrease the chances of future spinal issues.”
2. Better Organ Functioning
Yoga instructor Drew Vanover stated two ways your core affects your body’s organs. When your core is strong, Vanover said, there is “less compression on the lungs” which means “better breathing.” Also, “similar to the lungs, less compression on the heart allows it to work more efficiently.”
3. Reduced Pain
Some types of physical discomfort or aliments can be plaguing you as a result of carrying excess weight. Weight loss can help with reducing your pain. “Muscular strength, loss of body fat, and recovering from an injury or injury prevention are results of increased core strength,” claims Rockwell.
4. Injury Prevention
Lastly, a strong core is pertinent in helping you to prevent bodily injury. Certified Rehabilitation Specialist Dr. Scott Schreiber explains, “the ‘core’ muscles are the first to be activated with any movement of the body. When producing any movement force is translated from the lower extremities through the core to the upper body. If you have faulty core, this force transfer will be diminished.”
How to strengthen your core
Now that you understand the benefits of having a strong core, the next step is to incorporate core strengthening exercises into your fitness routine. USA Fitness Champion and IFBB Pro Lisa Reed has outlined four exercises for you to try.
1. Hardstyle Plank:
“Assume a standard plank position with your elbows directly underneath your shoulders, your feet together, and your back straight. Brace your abdominals as if you were expecting a punch to the stomach. Tighten your glutes as if you were pinching a coin between the cheeks. Tighten your quadriceps by pulling up your kneecaps. Pull your elbows down hard towards your feet by engaging your lats.”
2. Stir the Pot:
“Assume a plank position with your elbows resting on a stability ball and your hands together. Your feet can be positioned a little wider than hip width when doing this exercise. Moving only from your shoulders, move your arms in a circular motion clockwise. Return to the starting position, pause, and then repeat the motion counter clockwise. This exercise can be made more challenging by bringing the feet together.”
3. Glute Bridge on Stability Ball:
“Lie on your back with your knees at 90 degrees with your heels on top of a stability ball. Make sure your feet are together, and knees touching. Raise your hips in the air by squeezing your glutes.. Hold for one second at the top, and return to starting position.”
4. Reverse Back Extension on Stability Ball:
“Lay on top of the stability ball face down and place your hands in front of you on the floor. Your hips should be at the center of the stability ball. With your feet together, raise your legs until they are in line with your back by squeezing your glutes. Do your best not to go any higher than your back by hyper extending your back. Lower your legs back down to touch feet to floor and repeat.”
Now that you’ve got the training under control it’s time to make sure you’re on top of nutrition. Click here to learn more about WellPath’s customized nutritional solutions.