How to build a strong core

I’ve asked David of Chape Fitness to write a blog on core strength and he gives some simple exercises you can do at home without any special equipment.

 

David Neira of Chape Fitness

What is the core?

The area of the body, which is commonly referred to as the core, is your midsection and it involves all your muscles in that area including the front, back and sides. Major muscles included are the pelvic floor muscles, transversus abdominis, internal and external obliques, rectus abdominis, erector spinae, and the diaphragm.

The main difference between your core and your abs (or rectus abdominal muscles), is that the core covers all the muscles in the abdominal area that are responsible for functional strength  and stabilising.

Think of your core muscles as the central link in a chain connecting your upper and lower body. Whether you’re hitting a tennis ball or mopping the floor, the necessary motions either originate in your core, or move through it.

Why is it important to have a strong core?

A strong, flexible core underpins almost everything you do:

  • Everyday acts. …
  • On-the-job tasks. …
  • A healthy back. …
  • Sports and other pleasurable activities. …
  • Housework, fix-it work, and gardening. …
  • Balance and stability. …
  • Good posture.

Weak, tight, or unbalanced core muscles can undermine you in any of these realms. Overtraining abdominal muscles while snubbing muscles of the back and hip can set you up for injuries and cut athletic prowess.

exercises to strengthen your core

These bodyweight exercises will help you build a strong core, you will not need much time, room or equipment. Start with 30 seconds per exercise and go increasing progressively each week. For optimal results you should do this routine three times a week:

Plank

Start by getting into a press up position.

Bend your elbows and rest your weight on your forearms and not on your hands.

Your body should form a straight line from shoulders to ankles.

Engage your core, hold this position.

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Glute Bridge

Lying face up on the floor with your arms at your sides and your knees bent.

Contract your abdominal muscles to flatten your low back into the floor and try to maintain this contraction throughout the exercise.

Exhale and lift the hips off the floor by pushing through the floor with your heels. The result should be a bridge from the back of your shoulders to your knees. Do not push your hips too high because it will cause an arch in your lower back.

Inhale and lower your hips.

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Reverse Crunch

Lie on your back and extend your arms out to the side.

Raise your knees and feet so they create a 90-degree angle.Exhale and contract your abs lifting your hips off the floor with control; your knees will move toward your head. Try to keep your knees at a right angle. Don´t swing your legs up and down. Focus on your abs and try to lift your hips off the ground.

Inhale and slowly return to starting position.

Repeat.

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Bird Dog

Come to a quadruped position: place your hands under your shoulders. Your fingers facing forward. Place your knees under your hips, keeping your spine and neck in a neutral position; you should be looking at the floor.

Slowly extend your left leg behind you while reaching your right arm forward. Slowly return to the starting position and do the move on the opposite side.

Lift the leg off the floor until it is parallel to the floor. Keep both shoulders parallel to the floor too.

Your head should remain aligned with the spine throughout the movement. Do not lift the head or let it sag downward.

Back to starting position, maintaining balance and stability in the shoulders, pelvis, and torso. Alternate sides.

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Crunch

Lie on your back with bent knees and place your hands on the thighs.

Exhale and contract your abdominal muscles, approaching your breastbone to your pelvis. Reach your knees with your fingers.

Inhale and come back to starting position.

Repeat.

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Superman

Lie face down on your stomach with the arms and the legs extended.

Slowly, lift your left leg and right arm. Hold 2-5 seconds and back to starting position and alternate sides.

Exhale as you lift your arms and legs up off the ground. Inhale, as you lower your arms and legs back down.

Don´t pull. Focus on your back and glute muscles, gently rising as much as you can.

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Bicycle Crunch

Lie flat on your back on the floor or mat with bent knees, feet placed firmly on the floor and your hands behind your head. Engage your abdominal muscles to stabilize your spine. Pull the shoulder blades back and down. Slowly lift both feet off the floor until your thighs are vertical to the floor (90-degree angle at the hips) and your knees are at a 90-degree bend. Your feet may be relaxed with toes pointing away from your body.

Gently exhale and begin your movement by simultaneously:

  1. Contracting the abdominals to curl your head and shoulders off the mat.
  2. Straightening one leg toward the wall in front of you while keeping it elevated off the floor, higher than your hip.
  3. Bringing your other knee close to your chest.
  4. Rotating your torso slowly to bring your opposite elbow toward your bend knee.

Repeat the movement to the opposite side.

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Plank Jack

Start in a standard plank position, with your shoulders over your wrists, your body in one straight line, and your feet together.

Like the motion of a jumping jack, jump your legs wide and then back together. Keep your pelvis steady and don’t let your butt rise toward the ceiling.

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Side Lying Oblique Crunch

Lie on the floor on your side, with one foot stacked on top of the other.

For stability place your bottom arm straight out to the side with your palm down. Position your top arm with your hand behind your head and elbow pointed straight up.

Exhale and pull your knee until your thigh is perpendicular. At the same time crunch your body up and touch the elbow of your top arm to your top knee.

Do not pull your head as you crunch your body to the side.

Inhale on your way down and repeat.

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about David neira

David Neira is an IFBB Certified Personal Trainer and Evernote Community Leader. He uses Evernote to deliver personalized training and meal plans online and you can find more fitness articles and tips on his blog https://chape.fitness/

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