Is Core Fitness really important to you? See why this is where real fitness begins and why your core is the base of everything you set out to accomplish. Lack of proper core strength during training can lead to recurring pains, aches, and injuries. We offer our insights and our top 10 essential exercises.
Core fitness is an exercise routine that is defined by workouts which target the muscles in the deep muscular corset i.e. the diaphragm, transverse abdominous ( the deepest ab muscle), pelvic floor and the multifidus (a deep back-muscle that is found along the spinal cord).
The ‘Core’ is the body’s center of power and it includes deep intrinsic muscles starting from the torso extending to the shoulders and down to the pelvis. These muscles usually work as body stabilizers and therefore this fitness simply involves carrying out specific exercises that are essential for strengthening and developing them.
Why You Should Strengthen Your Core Fitness
This fitness exercise works to properly strengthen & condition all the core muscles in the body. The reason why you should strengthen your core fitness is that:
1. It helps to prevent Injuries.
Although building a strong core usually takes more than a few crunches, in order to develop a strong core, you must build a strong core stability which includes the deep internal muscles that are close to the spine.
Building a strong core first will get the deeper muscles working which will then improve the functionality of the core strength. This means that your overall fitness will be much stronger, making you less prone to injuries and pains.
2. Helps to protect inner organs and central nervous system
Staying healthy also means that the vital organs below the skin surface are also protected. The core is where vital organs and the central nervous system are based.
The biggest and most important arteries and veins are also found here and therefore strengthening your core will keep the muscles around these regions strong. This ensures that everything in your body stays protected as you go about your day.
3. It stabilizes your body.
If you have been in a fitness class, you must have been taught some of the best ways of exercising and most of the times it involves engaging the core. A strong core will stabilize your body not only when you are working out but as you engage in your day to day activities.
Although you may not realize how much core strength you use on daily basis, without it it would be challenging to get through the day and carry out simple tasks such as putting things on the shelf or bending over to tie your shoelaces. The stronger your core is the less energy & effort you will need to perform tasks.
4. It helps improve form.
It helps to improve form which helps to reduce strain on the joints and increase the efficiency of the body.
5. It helps maintain a healthy back
A lot of people have experienced back pains at certain points in their lives and lower back pains can be so debilitating. Strengthening your core helps in taking the pressure off your lower back when you are working out, doing an activity or when resting.
A strong core also helps to improve the posture and releases tension at the back and on shoulders.
Benefits of Good Core Fitness
Strengthening your core is like giving your body a full makeover. It will make you feel younger, smarter and great all over. Some of its benefits are:
• Helping to tighten abdominal structures which are involved in a movement.
• It delays the Aging Process. A good core exercise tones the muscles and reverses the aging process.
• Facilitates the effective & efficient working of the deep body muscles.
• Helps to prevent injuries.
• It improves mental function. A stable & aligned spine allows the brain to receive body messages quickly and more efficiently.
• It strengthens and improves torso stabilization. Stabilizing the core helps to hone the motor skills which helps improve the speed of body reaction & being able to stay balanced on unstable surfaces.
• Helps to stabilize & align the spine, pelvis, and ribs which help to withstand static & dynamic forces.
• Improves the respiratory function.
• Enhances the efficiency of neuro-muscular throughout the body. Neuro-Muscular helps to control body movements & physical positioning.
• Assists in spinal & postural control while the body is in motion.
• Helps to tighten & flatten the tummy.
Best Exercises for Core Fitness
The best core fitness exercises are much safer, more effective and can be done anywhere:
Plank targets the glutes, upper and lower abdominals. Lie face down with your feet & forearms placed on the floor. Draw your abs in and tighten the glutes. Thereafter lift your entire body off the floor until it forms a straight line from the head to the toes while resting on the forearms & toes. Hold on for a few seconds then slowly return your body to the ground. Do 2 sets each with 15 reps.
Everybody knows them and pretty well everybody hates them but “they work”
Just lay on the floor with bent knees. Bring the shoulders and upper body up as far as possible. Recline and repeat.
3. Kettle Wind Mill
It targets the obliques (side abs). Grab the kettlebell with your left-hand & spread your feet hip-width apart. Lift the weight next to your shoulder and lift it up while trying to touch your right foot with your right hand. Do eight reps, Pause for a few seconds then repeat with your right hand.
4. TRX Fallouts
TRX Fallouts are said to be one of the most effective core exercises in existence. It strengthens your entire core by placing the body in an unstable-plank position. Use both of your hands to hold the TRX handles in front of your chest & then lean your body forward at 45 degrees angle off the ground for a couple of seconds then go back to your original standing position. Do three reps of ten counts.
You can also try out other exercises such as V-Tuck, T-Stabilization, side crunch, knees to chest-toes to bar, deadlifts etc. as they target the obliques, the back, lower and upper abdomen. With the core, do quality fitness exercises over quantity.
5. Sled Sprint Pushes
The sled sprint push is the best possible upper body workout.
Set the sled where you have an unobstructed straight line of 50 yards or more. Grab the handles, bend just a bit and push to the other end. Do this if possible in a full sprint, of course, this will take time but the rewards are huge. Work up to at least 10 reps for each workout.
6. Weight Sled Pull Circuit
Get your harness and get ready to pull, you will need to use less weight on the sled than with your pushing exercise.
In this workout, you’ll be pulling the sled using a harness. Use a lighter weight than you would with the sled push.
Each circuit has two components:
a) 100-meter bear crawl with sled: Maintain a neutral spine while crawling on your hands and feet. Try to keep your head slightly up, but not too far up so that you’re putting a strain on your neck.
b) 100-meter sled pull: Stand up and run with the sled behind you.
Work up to being able to do your circuit 4 times. The longer you go the longer you can make your circuits.
7. Push-Pull Circuit
Using a long strap you will be doing a combination alternating between pulling and pushing. Do an equal number of laps to your circuit alternating between the two. Start with 2 of each and work up to 10 of each for a total workout of 20 reps.
8. Reverse Crunches
Everybody knows crunches but the ones that get you strong are the reverse crunches. They also help improve posture.
Lie on the floor with your knees together on your back.
You want your feet on the floor and a 90-degree bend in your legs. Place your hand’s palms down on the floor for support and lift the hips while bringing the knees up to your chest.
9. Hollow Body Hold
The first exercise that every gymnast learns is the Hollow Body Hold.
Contract your abs while lying flat on your back. Keep your toes pointed, keep your arms and legs straight out from the body. Raise your legs and body from the ground.
10. Dead Bug
Dead bugs sound really easy, if they are then you did not do them correctly.
Watching a bug on his back struggling is something everyone has done. You can do the same thing and burn plenty of calories. Make the same movements as the bug to strengthen your core, abs and lower back muscles with one exercise.
How about a slide show on Exercises to Improve Your Core Strength from the Mayo Clinic.