Ever thought about how every movement, every step you take, and every task you perform relies on one essential part of your body? Let’s explore the underappreciated world of core strength and dive into some simple exercises that can redefine your fitness journey.
The Significance of Core Exercises
Are core exercises essential?
From the minute you rise out of bed to the minute you sleep at night there isn’t a moment where you’re not using your core. Whether you need it to get you through 90 minutes of football; to push a wheel barrow; to load up your car; to carry your shopping home from the supermarket; or getting up from the chair correctly you need to engage your core.
The Impact of Sedentary Lifestyle
It also helps to stabilise your back and keep your body strong, tall and erect. In years gone by as we moved more than what we do now, our core was used continuously. However, as we have made our way from our feet to predominantly sitting the core musculature rarely gets used.
Unfortunately, this occurs from a much younger age with kids not playing, climbing, running or riding to the same degree as they did even 10 years ago. Adults too are spending hours at their desks in front of computers, phones, tablets and TV’s.
If you don’t use it, you lose it. In some cases these muscles are not developing as they should, leading to instability and long term postural, coordination and predisposition to chronic back conditions.
The Essential Core Exercises
Apart from the McGill Big 3 (the best three exercises for a stable core to prevent back injuries and to improve function in your everyday activities) here are some of my favourites for Core Stability:
Everyone has to start somewhere, and when it comes to core exercises we start with the plank. This is great beginner move that will get your core firing by forcing you to support your body weight on your forearms and toes. Too hard to start on your toes? Start on your knees and progress to your toes.
Too Easy? Try doing the plank, by placing your forearms onto a Swiss Ball or a Bosu. Want to Level Up, then work your body in 3 dimensions by add a combination move such as a Renegade Row.
Here is a precursor to a plank. The Dead Bug is a simple core stabilising exercise that you can do if injured (as long as you can get up from the ground) or do this exercises lying in bed if you have the room to stretch out. The dead bug is a beginner-friendly movement that helps limb movement (think walking, running, climbing a ladder) whilst keeping your core stable and protected. Performed correctly, the dead bug encourages the deep, stabilizing muscles of your low back, abdominals, and hips to engage, preventing your back from twisting or arching during the exercise.
Picture laying on your back, doing backstroke kicking on dry land. Sound easy then give this a go!
To level this exercise up go to Hollow Rocks. A seemingly innocuous little exercise, the hollow rock is a staple of gymnastics conditioning and excruciatingly tough when performed correctly. The idea is to rock like a rocking chair with your arms extended overhead and your legs out straight. There’s a flat spot that creates a visible “clunk” caused by weak contraction of the lower abs. Take the “clunk” out. The smoothness of your rocking speaks to your lower ab strength.
If you enjoy swimming, here is an awesome abdominal exercise that is great for your core. You will need a set of fins (I prefer and use DMC). Push off the wall on your back, place your hands above your head and do butterfly (dolphin) kick whilst in your back. Each kick is a sit up!
Medicine ball slams target muscles in both your upper body and lower body. When performed properly, they build strength in your upper back, core muscles, triceps, glutes, quads, and hamstrings. They can be a precursor to other exercises that involve lifting such as overhead press, cleans, snatches and squat.
The Russian twist is a great exercise to build core and shoulder strength. Athletes use it for rotational movement, which can be seen in sports. Though it seems easy, it takes a lot of effort and stability. Be wary to do the exercise correctly so as not to injure yourself due to the twisting nature, especially using weights.
Our daily life is full of activities that require a strong and stable core. But modern sedentary lifestyles have weakened our core, predisposing us to several health issues. By incorporating these simple core exercises into your routine, you can significantly improve your core stability and lead a healthier, more active life. Start today!