Everyone’s always talking about the importance of a strong core. Better posture, less back pain, less risk of injury, better movement.
Here are the three best core strengtheners EVER, according to us.
1. The Plank.
If I were to make a list of one exercise, this would be it. If you do nothing else, plank. A high plank (push-up position) provides stability and strength in the upper core – lats, shoulders, and upper back – as well as the transverse abdominals. A forearm plank focuses more on the abdominals and low back. Both are great. Hold your plank for as long as you can with good form, working up to a minute. Hint: place a broomstick along your spine to ensure proper alignment.
Most abdominal exercises focus on the rectus abdominis – the “6-pack” muscle. The problem is, this is not very functional, AND there’s a lot more to your core than that. A twisting motion, when done correctly, utilizes the entire core – transverse and obliques especially. If you have a lower back injury, weight-bearing twists might be unsafe. That’s okay: stand with feet hip-width apart, squeeze your belly tight, and twist from the waist, keeping the abs engaged the whole time. You’ll know if you’re doing right, because you’ll feel it. For an added challenge, use a cable or resistance band.
3. Bridges/Hip Extension
The midsection is just part of your core; the muscles surrounding your hip joints are just as vital. Many low back problems stem from improperly functioning glutes, so try this one: lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on floor. Create a neutral spine (your midback will arch away from the floor). Pressing your feet into the floor, use your glutes to lift the hips up in the air. Repeat 10-15 times. If your knees splay outward, squeeze a yoga block between your inner thighs. For an added challenge, place your feet on a step or stability ball.
Have a favorite core exercise? Share it in the comments below!