Strengthening your core is about more than simply getting toned abs. Not only do core exercises help to provide a balanced workout, they help to improve stability, strength, balance and posture.
However, core exercises move beyond simple crunches and the goal to build defined muscle. There is a range of workouts to try, helping to build strength from deep within the core and ensure you aren’t just working your back.
Core exercises also don’t have to be really involved and take a lot of time. You can see results by sticking with some simple workouts every day, ensuring you see and feel the difference. Here are a few you should try:
Vertical leg crunch
Mix up your standard crunch with this variation, which will target your upper abdominals. Lie on the floor as you would for standard crunches, but rather than bending your knees, lift your legs up in the air, bending your knees slightly.
Cross your ankles and slowly lift your body toward your knees, making sure you don’t rest your chin on your chest. Only move up as much as you can before moving back into the sitting position. Over time, you should be able to lessen the gap between your torso and your knees.
When doing this exercise, it is important to remember your breathing. This means focusing on exhaling as you move your torso upwards and inhaling as you return to your starting position.
Planking is a great way to build core strength, but once you get used to the exercise, it becomes really easy to keep it up for long periods of time. Once you’ve mastered the standard plank and can hold it for extended periods, it is a good idea to mix things up and add more of a challenge.
You can do this by simply lifting one foot off the ground and holding it in the air while planking. Switch your foot every 10 seconds, keeping the plank going for as long as possible.
Alternatively, you can try the side plank, which is great for working smaller abdominal muscles. This is more difficult and so you won’t be able to hold the plank for as long as you do a standard one.
Simply rest on one arm and push yourself up facing the side, resting one leg on top of the other and maintaining the tension in your core. Because this is a difficult plank, start by trying it for ten seconds on each side and ensure you keep your breathing even.
Hollow body hold
This simple exercise helps to build strength throughout your whole body and is really good for your core. After sticking with it for a while, you should see improvements in other core exercises, as well as full body workouts.
Simply lie on the floor, making sure your back is flat against it, your legs straight and together and your arms above your head. Slowly raise your shoulders, legs and arms off the ground, raising your head at the same levels as your shoulders.
The goal is to find the lowest point that you can hold your legs and arms off the floor without touching it and while keeping your whole body tense. This means you can start by keeping your feet and arms quite high off the floor and work to get them closer to the ground each time you do the exercise.
Rope climbs have nothing to do with climbing a rope, so you don’t need to panic. This exercise is relatively easy but really effective, especially when you get used to it and ensure you get into a daily routine.
Start by sitting with your legs forming a V shape, being sure to point your toes to maintain some tension in your leg muscles. Bend your back slightly to form a subtle C shape by tightening your core muscles. Only tense them as much as you can when holding the position for an extended period of time.
Lift your arms and move them as though you were climbing a rope, moving one into the arm and moving it downwards while the other is held at chest height and moved upwards. With each reach upwards, twist into it slightly with your core. Start off with ten reaches per arm and build this up.