Back by popular demand: here are my five best core strengthening exercises, as originally seen in Healthline. As winter weather limits your ability to be out and about, get busy with these quick and easy home exercises.
The core is made up of just a few muscles around the midsection of the body. If you’ve ever been pregnant of have gained weight, there’s a very high likelihood that these muscles are stretched out and quite weak.
The specific muscles that make up the core don’t move the torso, they stabilize it (sorry ladies, crunches aren’t going to strengthen your core). I’m going to give you five exercises to build-up those deep core muscles in your torso. Each exercise builds on the previous one, so as your core builds more muscular endurance and strength you’ll be able to progress through all of the exercises.
- Seated Transversus Pulses
Start by sitting up tall. Inhale, relax your stomach, and exhale as you pull your belly in tight towards your spine. Inhale for one count, exhale for one count. Repeat the squeezing exercise of your stomach 20 times without pausing. Your core should be strong enough where you can do 100 pulses straight without stopping.
- Bird Dogs
Get down on all fours, keeping your back in a nice neutral position, pull your belly in like you are doing a transversus pulse. With your core pulled in tight extend your right arm and left leg out away from your torso. Hold for ten counts and come back to the start position. Repeat on the other side with your left arm and right leg extending out. Repeat 3-4 times on both sides and work on not wobbling.
Again on all fours with your belly pulled in tight, extend your right leg out to a plank position and then add your left leg. Keep breathing and squeezing your stomach up towards your spine. A good goal would be holding for 20-30 counts. Come out of the plank as soon as you feel your back getting tired, as that is a sign that your core has turned off.
- Side Plank
Starting in a strong plank, transfer your weight to your left hand as you lift your right towards the ceiling. Your feet can independently be on the floor or be stacked on top of each other if you want a harder challenge. Your core should be squeezing tightly and your pelvis should be in a nice straight line from your head to your feet. Hold for 10 counts, rotate back to your starting plank position, then rotate to the other side by transferring your weight to your right hand and lifting your left hand to the ceiling.
- Reverse Plank with Leg Lift
Start by sitting on the ground with your legs extended straight in front of you. Your hands will be a few inches behind your bottom on the ground. With your stomach muscles pulled in tight and your shoulders pulled down, lift your bottom off the ground. From the side your head, pelvis, and feet should be in a straight line. Without allowing your pelvis to drop down, lift your right leg about six inches off the ground and then bring it back down. Repeat with the left leg. Then bring your bottom back to the ground. Repeat that whole exercise 4-5 times.
One of the most important things to remember when building your core muscular strength is that it takes time. While doing your core exercises, if your back starts to ache, it’s time to stop doing core exercises for the day. Your core muscles are tired. Keep working hard and building up the muscular endurance. Do a few exercises for your core everyday and you’ll have success with building up your core muscles.
By Erin Myers, certified Pilates instructor, author of The Beautiful Scoliotic Back
As featured in Healthline
Now, it’s your turn: try these exercises for one week and give me updates on your progress in the Comments section below.