If you take part in regular exercise it may not mean you are an athlete, but that is not to say that a lot of the advice given to athletes isn’t also relevant to you.
Proper, consistent core training helps to create efficient movement patterns which aids coordination and balance whether you are walking, lunging or standing on one leg! Your body becomes more efficient therefore making better use of the time you devote to exercise.
The exercises I am going to list all have one thing in common. They involve multiple muscle groups which is more challenging for your body and teaches it to engage the core to support your movement. You won’t be surprised to know they all involve core strength and stability. By learning to recruit multiple muscles for one movement you can help prevent injuries from overusing a single muscle or muscle group.
These exercises collectively include each muscle group. They are listed in terms of least challenging to most challenging, but as we all have different strengths and weaknesses and you may find some of the easier ones more challenging, or some of the more difficult ones might be more natural for you.
Start with a manageable number of repetitions (6-12) but try to do more than one set, 2-3 is ideal.
Starting on your hands and knees, extend your right arm and left leg straight out in opposite directions. You should focus on engaging your core to stay stable with level hips and squeeze your left glute to ensure maximum extension. Bring your right elbow and left knee toward each other to touch if you can, then extend them back out. After the number of reps are complete on that side, switch to your left arm and right leg. The slower the better.
Bent Over Rows:
From a standing position with your feet at hip-width apart, bend over with a slight bend in your knees, and ensure that your back is flat by pulling your shoulders back, engaging your core, and keeping the natural curve in your lower back. With a dumbbell in each hand, lift the dumbbells to your side, keeping your elbows close to your body, and focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top of each move. Breathe out as you draw the dumbbells up.
Start in a high plank position (see photo), hands under shoulders, core engaged and back flat. Step your left foot as close to the outside of your left hand as possible then return it to the starting position, repeat on the other side.
Back Lunge with Twist:
Start from a standing position, step your right leg back into a lunge and then twist your upper body towards the right side, ensuring that your right knee stays steady and not overlapping your toes while you twist. Alternate legs and add weight as you get more confident. Focus on stability around your knees and hips.
Begin in a standing position with your knees slightly bent, then start by pushing laterally (sideways) off your right leg and landing on your left leg with your knee bent. Then jump laterally from your left leg back to your right leg, and so on. Start with small jumps to maintain your balance and lateral stability, then challenge yourself to jump wider to work on lateral power. Leaning forward slightly will engage the core muscles more deeply as they work to keep you balanced.
As you can see, these are not your typical sit-up or crunch exercises, they are far more interesting and effective when looking to strengthen your whole core rather than just your abdominal muscles.
If you would like any more ideas or help with the exercises above please get in touch. I hope you found this blog useful, feedback and ideas for future topics will always be welcome.