Building a strong and solid core is vital for a robust and healthy life. A strong core helps you stand straighter and keeps your trunk (your lower body) stabilised during your daily life and especially during a workout.
Without this stability, this core strength, you can become vulnerable to injury and rehabilitating weakness as you move forward in life. If you have a weak or weakening core, you significantly heighten your risk of muscle injury, lower back pain, and poor posture (which in itself is going to damage your skeletal frame and shoulders.
Plus, you are going to appear weak, slumped forward and sag. Not a good look.
It is pretty straightforward to add core strength exercises into your workout. Doing so requires no equipment and can be undertaken at or outside of the gym. Plus, simple core strength exercises can be built up over time and adapted to your (hopefully growing!) fitness levels.
To get you started, try adding these exercises into your workout:
Step by step:
Lay down with your back on the floor.
Draw your feet in towards your hips, feet flat to the floor, shins vertical.
Rest your arms on the floor at your sides.
Push your feet into the floor focusing on driving your heels down, and at the same time engage your glutes and back muscles to lift your hips up until they align with your shoulders and knees.
From the top position, lower your hips back to the floor and repeat the movement by raising and lowering them for the duration required.
Try to focus on lifting your hips using your glutes, hamstrings and lower back muscles rather than your quads on the front of your thighs.
Step by step:
Lay on your front with feet together and arms by your side.
Squeezing your glutes and your feet together whilst squeezing the muscles of your lower back, raise your straight legs off the floor.
At the same time raise your head, chest and straight arms off the floor, bringing your arms forward so they are in a straight line from fingertip to fingertip.
Next, raise your arms forward so they are above your head, in line with your ears.
Return your arms in line with your shoulders, then back down by your sides. Relax and lower your legs, chest, head and arms to the floor.
Keep your chin tucked in for the duration of the exercise. Your arms are never raised off the floor higher than your head.
Step by step:
Start in a crawling position on your hands and knees.
Pick up one hand, bend it at the elbow and place your elbow on the floor directly underneath your shoulder.
Repeat for the other hand so that you are resting your upper body on your elbows.
Then walk your knees back out behind you, tuck your toes and pick your knees up off the floor into Plank position.
Make your body as rigid as you can from your feet to your head to keep it in a straight “plank-like” shape side on.
Do this by tensing your quads to lift your knee caps up your thighs, squeezing your glutes together, bracing your core and drawing your belly button up away from the floor, whilst at the same time pressing down into the floor with your elbows.
Keep your neck in a neutral position, aligned with the rest of your spine, by looking at the floor just in front of your hands.
Step by step:
Lie on your back and extend your legs up to a 45-degree angle.
Keep your arms straight and in line with the floor, palms facing down.
Lift your head, neck and shoulders slightly off the ground.
Keeping your legs stuck straight and glued together with your toes pointed, start lowering one leg.
Raise your lowered leg and lower the other, focusing on keeping your core engaged.
Continue the movement, alternating between legs.
Inserting planking and related exercises into your workout is a great way to target the core and make it stronger. These kinds of exercises can also be undertaken anywhere and with low risk to the person doing them.
So, start exercising your core today.
Your body will thank you for doing so in the years to come.