Your core muscles form the basis of your body, aiding in nearly every move you make. To maintain their flexibility and strength, it’s essential to strengthen them regularly.

Building a strong core requires exercises that incorporate movement, stability and strength. We asked Richard Tidmarsh – strength and conditioning coach and founder of Reach Fitness (opens in new tab) – for his tips on the moves best suited for beginner, intermediate and advanced gym-goers alike.

1. Side Plank

The side plank is an effective exercise for building core strength and stability. Not only that, but it also improves posture and lowers the likelihood of experiencing lower back pain.

Exercise for balance is also an excellent strengthening exercise that strengthens your arms, wrists and shoulders. To get maximum benefit from this exercise, perform it with proper form.

According to physiotherapist and chiropractor Greg Lehman, performing side planks activates 40% of your upper and lower back muscles as well as 50% of the obliques (muscles on either side of your abdomen), 34% of rectus abdominis (the muscle in the middle of your torso), transverse abdominis, and gluteus medius.

2. Shoulder to Knee

A weak core can lead to a variety of health issues. From back pain and hip/knee injuries, being weak at the core puts you at greater risk for injury.

A strong core can help avoid these problems and make them less likely to occur. Even if you’re not doing a rigorous weight training routine, it’s beneficial to work your core muscles every day.

One of the best exercises for developing a stronger core is shoulder to knee. This exercise engages your entire core and obliques.

3. Reverse Crunch

The reverse crunch is one of the best exercises for developing a stronger core, and it’s easy to do. Plus, this exercise can be tailored to fit your specific needs and fitness level.

It targets the rectus abdominis (primary core muscles), as well as external and internal obliques that are essential for trunk flexion and stabilization.

When performing the reverse crunch, keep your shoulders up and legs straight throughout the movement. Doing this prevents your body weight from tucking too far back toward you, which could lead to injuries and improper form.

In addition to working your core, the reverse crunch is an effective fat burner exercise. However, it won’t directly target belly fat unless you are on a caloric deficit and living a healthy lifestyle.

4. Lunges

Lunges are an effective exercise for building a stronger core. Additionally, they’re an excellent way to increase the strength and flexibility of your lower body.

Exercise balls are ideal for building leg strength and toning the hips, glutes, and hamstrings. Furthermore, they improve balance and coordination – making them a beneficial addition to any workout regimen.

For maximum benefits from lunges, it’s essential to maintain correct form. Make sure your front knee stays above the same ankle as your rear foot and ensure both hips are aligned when you flex.

5. Plank

Planks are a staple core exercise because they help strengthen and stabilize your ab muscles while engaging other major muscle groups such as the back, shoulders, and glutes.

Planking not only strengthens your core, but it can also burn calories and keep your body at a healthy weight. This is because strong muscles mean that even when you aren’t exercising, your body will continue burning more calories than usual.

Start by trying a one-minute plank with breaks every 10 seconds. As you become comfortable with it, gradually increase the length of time held in this position.

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