[Updated on 1 June 2020] Having a strong core is an invaluable asset. For starters, having a strong and stable core will give you better body balance and posture; it will also go a long way in reducing your back pain. Your core muscles play a vital role when it comes to moving your body. They directly affect your mobility, movement and of course, your posture. In this article, we have mentioned some best core exercises to strengthen your core.
Your midsection is always working when you lift an object, when you stand up, walk or even breathe. Also, your core strength ultimately determines your ability to balance stabilize and control your body weight every time you are exercising.
Your Pelvic girdle, as well as your spine, acts as the control center of your core along with the surrounding muscles such as your glutes, erector spine, and your abdominals-contracting and providing you with stability. Since several combinations of these muscles are directly involved with so many different exercises, you don’t need to focus on one specific area, like doing sit-ups to challenge these particular muscles. If anything, some of the best and most efficient workouts include a combination of entire muscle groups at once. This will also help keep your balance, which is vital especially when looking to improving performance as well as avoiding injury.
How Does your Core affect your Posture?
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Your core muscles play a significant role when it comes to body movement. They have a direct effect on your movement, posture, and mobility. It’s important to note that your core is always working. Since having poor posture directly leads to weak and tight muscles, it’s vital that you adopt a good stretch and mobility regime with exercise.
How will a strong core improve my posture?
Think about it; your core is your body’s anchor, meaning everything including your spine, back, head, and neck, rely on its strength. This is why your spinal alignment is vital to your back health. Since your abs sit right in front of your spine, strengthening them will help alleviate other muscles from exerting themselves to support your spine. When you routinely strengthen your core muscles, your spine will rely less and less on the support your back muscles offer. While a plus of core workouts is for a tones tummy, there’s also a bonus of an improved posture, which in this case is a win-win.
Core exercise for good posture
Now that you have an understanding of the importance of a strong core, the main question is, how can you strengthen it for good posture? Well, the answer is simpler than you think; in fact, you dint have to spend a fortune in gym subscription or hours on end doing crunches.
Taking some time every day to do some stretches and core workout will go a long way in strengthening your core and improving your posture. For a strong core, the exercises need to target your abdominal muscles including the traverse abdominals. The following are a few effective ways you can strengthen your core and improve your body posture.
This Pilates exercise targets your back, shoulders, glutes to improve your posture and range of motion.
To effectively do this workout, lie face down making sure your arms and legs are opened in an “X” type formation on the floor. Gently lift your chest, arms, and thighs off the floor. It’s important that your eyes focus down, and your neckline is directly matched to your spine. Now, raise your left arm as well as your right leg a bit high, and then switch sides swiftly. That is one rep, now do 20 reps as quickly as you can. Make sure that you keep your torso steady while your legs and arms are fluttering.
The Bow Pose
This simple stretch work-out will help open up your front body since these muscles often get tight from sitting all day at your desk.
Lie down on a mat with your knees bent and slightly wider (hip-width apart). Now, reach your arms back to get a hold of your ankles. Gently, lift your chest and thighs off the floor as high as possible. Ensure your head is in line with your heels. Hold this pose for up to 30 seconds.
Balancing Side Plank Pose
This exercise is meant to strengthen your obliques while also working with your inners thighs and should with this particular plank variation.
To perform this exercise, start in a modified side plank having your left hand extend under your shoulder, with your left knee bent on the floor, your right leg extended straight at the bottom of your foot pressed flat to the floor. It’s important that your hips are stacked. Now draw your abs in tightly towards your spine and lift your leg off the floor, pulling your left side foot into the right knee – cross your left side knee a bit so that it is over the midline of your body. Hold this position for ten seconds and repeat on the other side.
The Seated Hurdler Pose
This pose is aimed at opening your hips and hamstrings and can be done immediately after the balancing side plank pose.
Begin this work out in a seated position. Start by extending your left leg with your right side knee bent and open on the side, the underside of your right side foot needs to be pressed against your left thigh. Now, bring your right foot as close as possible to your body, without necessarily compromising on your comfort. Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
The Seated Hover
This ab work-out doesn’t look like much, however it a great challenge for your core.
Start by sitting with your legs crossed, if possible, in a lotus position. Make sure your hands are outside your hips and pressed into the floor. Now, tilt your pelvis up rounding your back. Scoop your abs in deep towards your spine while gently pushing into the floor with your arms to lift your hips off the mat/ground. Hold this position and hover for up to 30 seconds. For the preceding set, cross the opposite leg in front. In case your hips do not come off the floor, work on the tilt and scoop.
The Hip Opener
This exercise works to relax your back and hips. You can perform this work out after the seated hover pose.
Begin by simply lowering your hips to the floor from the hover position and folding your body over your legs, reach your arms out in front of your body on the ground and stretch your hips. Hold this pose for up to 30 seconds.
The Kneeling Hinge
This workout helps engage your abs in a Matrix-inspired move.
Start by bending your knees ensuring your legs are hip-width apart, make sure your toes are pointed behind you and your arms extended out in front of your chest, palms facing down. Now, brace your abs and maintain a straight line from your knees up to your head. Try to hinge back as far as possible, then return to the starting position. Do a maximum of ten reps. Feel free to fold a towel or mat underneath your knees to provide extra cushioning.
The Camel Pose
This exercise works to stretch your thighs, chest, and back in a yoga pose.
Begin this workout in a kneeling hinge position. Now, press forward your hips, make sure you arch your back, reaching out your hands back to your heels. To simplify this move, ensure your toes are tucked under to bring your heels closer to your hands. Hold this position for up to 30 seconds.
The Bird Dog
This is quite a challenging work out that looks tougher than it appears. It also works effectively to improve your core.
Start this work out on all fours. Now, brace your abs and extend your right arm through to your right ear and extend your left leg out so that it is positioned behind your hip. Ensure both your arm and leg are in line throughout to your torso. Hold this position for one to five seconds. For an effective routine, refrain from shifting your body, lower both your leg and arm, and switch sides. Try to imagine balancing a cup of tea on your lower back in the process of the entire work out. Do 20 alternating reps to maximum effects.
The Balancing Quad Stretch
For this workout, make sure you continue to work your core muscles stretching your quadriceps, chest, and hip flexors with this balancing stretch.
In all fours, extend your opposite leg and arm. Now, bend your knee and try to grab your left foot using your opposite hand. Bring your foot into your body and lift your leg as high as you can. Hold this position for thirty seconds and repeat for the opposite side.
The Knee Pull Plank
This exercise targets your abs while engaging your entire body with this plank variation.
Start this exercise in a full plank position. Pull your feet together, with your arms extending straight under your shoulders. Now, bend-in your right-side knee inwards to your chest scoping your abs in towards your spine and allowing your back to slightly round. Now, pulse your knee close to your chest, do it, ten times. Make sure you are drawing in your abs tighter, as you pull your knee in. Do the same for the opposite side.
The Pigeon Pose
This exercise works to open up inner thighs as well as tight hips.
This work out is a transition from knees pulls planks. Now, start by lowering your raised leg down to the floor, turning your knee out to the side while bringing your heel forward. Now, slide the leg behind down to the floor, pin-pointing the foot positioned behind using the top of the foot that’s resting on the ground. Lower the upper part of your body towards the floor, bending your elbows while you rest your head on your hands. Does it feel tough? Ensure that your upper body is lifted with your hands on the floor to reduce intensity. Hold this pose for 30 seconds and then repeat for the opposite side.
Panther Shoulder Tap
This is an amazing bodyweight move that targets your core. It’s dynamic, fun and challenging. It will quickly fire up your mid-section.
Begin on all fours. Engage your core with your back flat and your butt down like you would doe in a plank. Now, lift your knees off the floor for about 1-3 inches. Focus your gaze on the floor a few inches forward; this helps keep your neck in a comfortable position. Now, tap your right hand on your left shoulder and then your left on your right shoulder using your core strength. Keep your hips as still as possible. Continue alternating the sides.
The Butterfly sit-up
When your legs are in a butterfly position, it eliminates the choice to use your hip flexors, directly forcing good form. It’s also modifiable in both directions, making it perfect for group training sessions.
Start by lying down with your face up with the soles of your feet together, and knees bent to the side. Now, reach your arms overhead. This is the starting position. Now, with your midsection, roll your body sitting upright. Reach out ahead and touch your toes. That is the first rep. Now, slowly lower your back down to the starting position and continue into the next rep.
The Dead Bug
This stretch is great for connecting your mind and your core. It ideally an all-encompassing ab workout, but you won’t necessarily feel a burnings sensation. That’s not always better. It’s an important workout to create deep core muscle strength.
Start by lying down with your arms extended towards the ceiling and your legs in a tabletop position. Ensure your knees are bent 90 degrees and stacked over your hips. This is the starting position. Now, calmly reach your right leg out straight while dropping your left arm overhead simultaneously. Ensure both are a few inches off the ground. Now, squeeze your behind and keep your core engaged the entire time with your lower back pressed into the floor. Finally, bring your arm and leg back onto the starting position. Repeat this on the other side extending your left leg and your right arm.