What’s the first thing you think of when you hear “strong core”? Abs.. right? Partially correct. A strong core is much more than that. Think of it as a central link connecting your upper and lower body. The stronger it is, the easier every task will be. It effects how well your arms and legs work. We’re often told the core is where the power is, and that is very much accurate. Here’s why:
- A Strong Back: Four out of five Americans will suffer some lower back pain at some point in their lives. Having strong core muscles can prevent and alleviate it. It’s even prescribed to relieve the aliments.
- Balance & Stability: Your core stabilizes your body regardless of the terrain.
- Posture: Having weak core muscles can contribute to slouching. By improving your core, it decreases stress on the spine.
- Better Athletic Performance: To restate the benefits above, having strong core muscles increases power to other parts of your body.
- Minimizes Injury: By removing unnecessary stress on certain joints, muscles and spine, you’re less likely to experience injury.
Not sure what to do next? Below are a few exercises to incorporate into your routine that I personally do and love:
1. Cable Kneeling Crunch with Rope:
As you kneel in front of a high cable pulley, grasp onto the rope. Place your wrists against your head. Keep your hips stationary as you pull down the weight with your torso, hold and slowly return to starting position. I like to do 4-6 sets of 15 reps.
2. Standing Side Crunch with Olympic Style Weights:
Stand normal with either one or two weights at either side. Slowly bend to the one side as much as possible without feeling pain. Return to starting position and repeat on other side. Do 4-6 sets of 10 reps. The key is to go slowly and only engage the core.
3. Decline Crunches:
Secure your feet into the decline bench. Place hands on the back of your head. Begin at the bottom of the bench, slowly crunch and return to starting position. If that’s too much for you, you can start at a higher point. At the top of the crunch, you can also twist to engage the obliques. Adding weight to this exercise adds another level of burn. Do 4 sets of 10 reps.
4. Leg Raises on Dip Machine:
Rest your back on the cushion while securing a good grip on the handles. Once this is done, Raise your legs as high as you can and as straight as well. Holding it at the top will add an extra burn. Even doing a bend leg raise has its benefits too. Dp 5-7 sets of 10 reps.
It takes time to develop these highly coveted muscles. Don’t get discouraged and keep pushing. The time will fly by anyway, you might as well work towards your goals.