Working on your core muscles isn’t just about carving out a six-pack, but that’s a nice by-product! Ignore the millions of Instagram pics of beautiful people with washboard flat stomachs. Gaining overall strength and stability is your goal.
A strong core is essential for the majority of movements we do, walking, standing, bending over, getting out of bed – they are our internal support system. If they are in a weakened state you are susceptible to poor posture, fatigue, muscle injuries and back pain. This is why your Genesis personal trainer probably talks about your core 24/7.
Including core strengthening exercises, as part of your normal workout will benefit abdominal, back, pelvic and hip muscles, to teach them how to work in harmony. You also run less risk of injuring your back during training, as your core muscles stabilise your spine.
Play it safe - get it right
Try these core strengthening exercises in isolation, or as part of your regular workout. If you have a medical condition or an old injury, book a session with a Genesis personal trainer pronto. This will help you avoid injury and ensure you are doing the exercises correctly. If you aren’t very flexible, warm up, stretch and roll around on an exercise mat first.
5 tips your core will love
Use an exercise/yoga mat/rug to protect your back. Start with 3-5 reps of each core strengthening exercise, gradually building up to 10-20 reps as your strength increases. Concentrate on squeezing your abdominal muscles and breathing freely during each exercise. These are the most popular and time-tested core strengthening exercises, stick with it for one month and see the difference!
1. The Low Plank
Lying on your front, lift up to rest on your forearms/toes. Get your head/neck to straighten up in line with your back, position shoulders directly above your elbows. Squeeze in your abdominal muscles by trying to get your naval to come up and inwards, like it’s touching your spine. Squeeze your gluts, and hold yourself there for 3 long breathes. Well done! Now start again.
2. The Side Plank
This takes a while to do properly, do it in front of a mirror or with a buddy until you nail it.
Lie on your side with your lowest elbow flat on the floor supporting your weight. Engage core muscles as above, then slowly raise your hip, so there is a straight line from ankles to hip to shoulders. Raise top arm laterally towards the ceiling, hold for 3 long breathes, then lower arm.
Return to resting then respect with other side. This is one of the best hacks for a wicked waistline!
Lying on your front, place a small rolled towel/cloth/cushion underneath your hips, to keep your back up. Squeeze your abdominal muscles, then raise your right arm off the ground and hold for 3 breathes, before lowering. Repeat with your left arm. Then lift your right leg off the ground, holding for 3 breathes, then lowering. Repeat with the left leg. Well done – you get your superhero stripes!
4. The Bridge
Lie on your back keeping it in a straight/neutral position with your knees bent. Ensure your back isn’t curved or pushed into the mat, keep your hips steady and then squeeze your abdominal muscles. Slowly raise your hips off the ground, until they are straightened in line with your knees and shoulders. Hold for 3 long breathes, then return to neutral position. Repeat.
5. Bicycle Crunch/Crisscross Crunch
Lie flat on a mat with your back pressed into the ground, squeeze your abdominal muscles and pull your naval inwards to the floor. Place your hands behind your neck, bring your knees up to your chest, raise your shoulder blades off the floor without pulling on your neck. Straighten your left leg to a 45-degree angle off the floor. Turn your upper body to the right, bringing your left elbow towards your right knee. Repeat on other side.