Your core is much more than a 6 pack. Here are a few ways to strengthen your core effectively.
The abdominals are the focus of many people’s fitness goals. You want a flat belly and usually spend the last part of your workout cranking out crunches, leg drops, etc. While performing isolating abdominal exercises is OK, it is important to focus on your core throughout your entire workout. I will be going into more detail on this in my January Newsletter (which you can subscribe to via my website www.janaheath.com). You also need to remember that we do not just move front and back or side to side. We twist, turn, bend and reach. These movements occur in the transverse plane and it is important to work in this plane when you are exercising.
To strengthen your core, it is best to begin with recognizing how to engage your core. The pelvic tilt is the best way, in my opinion, to do this.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent.
- “Brace” your stomach-tighten your muscles by pulling in and imagining your belly button moving toward your spine. You should feel like your back is pressing to the floor and your hips and pelvis are rocking back.
- Hold for about 6 seconds while breathing smoothly.
- Repeat 8 to 12 times.
Here are a few examples of core exercises in the transverse plane. I call them core exercises but they truly work so much more of your body.
Start off with you lower back pressed into the ground. Legs are straight and close to the ground. The closer your feet are to the ground, the more advanced the move becomes. Twist and touch your elbow to your knee, then switch sides.
Stand with your knees shoulder width apart, your knees slightly bent. Hold a medicine ball with both hands so that it’s slightly to the right of your right knee. Keeping your hips facing forward, bring the medicine ball across and in front of your body, your arms remaining fully extended, so that the ball ends up above and to the left of your left shoulder. As you perform the movement, your torso should rotate slightly as a unit, but your hips should not turn or shift. Reverse the movement to finish one repetition and continue a set of 15 to 20. When you’re done, switch sides.
You can also perform this with a weight, cable or nothing in your hands.