Exercises for your Core: Our Top 5
Have you ever tried to sift through Google to figure out the best exercises for your core? You’ll get over 283 million results with information on core exercises’ do’s and don’ts. And like anything else, there is both good and bad information out there.
If you wish to incorporate more core exercises into your workouts or as a stand-alone exercise plan, it’s important to know what you are getting into. Many of the physique-based programs incorporate exercises that are aimed at increasing strength alone. Additionally, strength is only one component of your core muscles’ ability to function correctly.
When looking at core strengthening, it’s important to consider increasing strength and improving core activation for the entire ‘core’ (including the pelvic floor). By incorporating exercises that approach the core as a whole, you help improve not only strength but also decrease your risk of injury.
Core exercises are a great way to decrease the risk of low back injuries. Not only can it help reduce your risk of injury, but it can also help you feel stronger and have a positive effect on your other sports and activities.
My Top 5 Core Exercises:
- Plank (10 seconds x 6): Begin on the ground on your elbows and knees. Slowly lift your knees off the ground so the weight is on your elbows and feet. In this position, focus on keeping your hips down and looking down towards the floor (without letting your head drop).
- Bear Crawl: Lower yourself to the ground and go on your hands and knees. Round and flatten your back a few times to find the middle ground. When you have a found neutral, hold your spine in that position but shift your weight to your toes and lift your knees 1-2 inches off the ground. From here you have two options. You can hold this position for 15-30 seconds OR you can slowly ‘crawl’ forward. To ‘crawl’ lift one hand and the opposite foot off the ground and move them forward, then shift your weight and crawl forward with the opposite hand and foot.
- Dead Bug: Laying on your back, lift your feet off the ground, bending your hips and knees to 90 degrees. Lift your arms up and reach toward the sky. This is your starting position. From here exhale and slowly lower a bent leg and your opposite arm to the ground. Bring your leg and arm back to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side. Once you are comfortable here, you can progress, performing the movement with a straight leg.
- Side plank: Lay on your side with one elbow on the ground and on your knees. You can perform the plank in this position or you can lift your knees off of the ground and put your weight on your elbow and feet. Here you want to focus on keeping a straight line from your head down to your toes.
- Glute Bridge: Lying flat on your back, bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the ground. Take a breath in, exhale and push through your heels to lift your hips off the ground. At the top of this motion squeeze the glutes, then slowly lower your hips back down to the ground.
Like with any exercise plan, it’s essential to start slowly and increase the number of reps and sets. If any exercise causes pain or aggravates existing injuries, make sure you stop and consult a health professional.