3 Exercises To Strengthen Your Core

3 Exercises To Strengthen Your Core
When you hear someone talk about their core, you’re probably thinking about a 6-pack of abs. But in all actuality, your core is comprised of many different muscle groups – and not just the ones that make up ripped abs! These core muscles do more than boast strengthening properties; they’re also responsible for maintaining balance and keeping you stable as well!

Your core is actually a large group of muscles that surround your trunk; this includes muscles in your back and muscles around your hips and waist too. These muscles not only help you to bend over, stand up straight, and rotate side to side, but they also aid in helping you perform activities in your day to day life (like bending over to pick up a child, lifting a heavy box, or leaning over to make your bed, just to name a few).

The muscles that make up your core include the multifidus (supports the spine), the erector spinae (brings you back to standing straight after bending), the transverse abdominis (wraps around your torso, similar to a corset), the rectus abdominis (helps you bend forward), and the obliques (assists with rotation and bending).

If you’re new to exercise, figuring out what movements will work best to strengthen your core muscles can be a daunting task – but it doesn’t have to be! Let’s check out three of the best exercises you can do to strengthen your core in a safe and effective way!

Plank

Starting on your hands and knees, face the ground while keeping your head neutral with your spine. Step your feet straight back into a pushup position, keeping feet together and wrists directly below shoulders. Squeeze your glutes and engage your core muscles, making sure that your hips don’t drop down towards the floor or pike up toward the ceiling. Keeping shoulders down and back, hold this position for time.

This move not only targets all the muscles of the core, but it also helps to strengthen your shoulders, upper back, and legs.

Toe Taps

Start with laying down on your back for this movement; legs need to be bent and raised off the floor at about a 90-degree angle (so from the side, your shin bones are parallel to the ground). Place your palms down at your sides, keeping your head flat on the floor. Engage your core muscles while simultaneously lowering your left foot toward the floor – hinging at the waist, and letting your toe barely tap the ground. Raise your left foot back up to the start position, and alternate legs. The lower back should not raise up off of the floor at any point during the exercise.

Toe taps are wonderful for not only engaging the core muscles, but working your legs and hips as well!

Bird Dog

Start this movement on your hands and knees, keeping your head neutral with your spine. Knees should be directly below the hips, and wrists directly under shoulders. From here, engage your core muscles, and slowly extend your right arm out straight in front of you while simultaneously raising your left leg out straight behind you. Bring both arm and leg back to center, and repeat with opposite limbs. During this movement, you want to keep a strong, neutral spine – so when you extend your limbs, try not to lose engagement and arch your lower back.

This exercise is fabulous for stability, and works the core muscles as well as the glutes and shoulders/upper body.

As you progress through these beginner exercises, there are always ways to make them more challenging; if you need help (or even a form check), get in touch with a local fitness professional to assess how to move forward in increasing your core strength. After all, the core is a large group of muscles that are used every day, in almost every activity – so we definitely need to keep them strong!

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