Your core is not just a 6-pack of abs or something that turned into a beer belly. Your core is responsible for some of the most basic functions your body is able to perform. While your core provides support and strength, it’s also responsible for reducing pain and accomplishing tasks. Your core affects the way you sit, walk, stand and exercise. Because your core is connected to your back, glutes, spinal cord and legs, this part of your body helps you balance and keep everything together.
Your core is made up of three areas of muscle: the upper abs, side muscles or obliques, and then a deep layer of muscle. These deep muscles help support your spine and the rest of your body.
Core conditioning exercises are very important for every person, regardless of your fitness goals and abilities. When targeting your core during training sessions, it doesn’t always doesn’t always mean crunches. You can exercise your core through things like yoga, Pilates and other strength training activities. And you can always engage core muscles during popular exercises like squats and lunges. Keeping your stomach tight and clenched during these exercises creates an added benefit for your abdominals.
6 Exercises You Can Do For Core Conditioning
Here are some specific core conditioning exercises you can do at home or at the gym to strengthen your core:
- Crunches: Lie down on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. While keeping your feet firmly on the floor, move your upper body toward your knees, and then go back to the floor. Use only your stomach muscles to lift your upper body from the floor. Complete 12 to 15 reps for 3 rounds, if possible.
- Planks: While resting on your elbows, press up from your toes and balance in this position for 30-60 seconds for 3 rounds. Keep your hips in line with the rest of your body without letting them sag.
- Arms and Leg Raise with a Stability Ball: Using a stability ball, rest your hips on top of the ball, with your feet and arms touching the floor. Alternate between lifting opposite arms and legs at the same time. For example: tighten your core and raise your right arm and left leg. Complete 12 to 15 exercises for 3 rounds.
For those stuck at a desk all day, there are some stretches and exercises you can incorporate into your workday to strengthen your core.
- Ab Squeeze: Sit upright in your chair. Squeeze your abs for as long and tight as possible for 2 to 5 seconds. Release and then repeat this for 12 to 15 reps for 3 rounds.
- Accordions: Balance on your chair without resting your back on your chair. Hold on to the arms for support while you move your legs out and in from your body. This will target your lower abs and get your blood pumping. Perform 12 to 15 reps for 3 rounds.
- Alternating Elbows and Knees: Just like the bicycle abdominal exercise, you can perform something similar from your office chair. Place your opposite arm on the side of your head and raise your opposite leg at the same time. Twist your upper half while moving your lower half to meet your elbow. Try 12 to 15 reps for 3 rounds.
Core conditioning exercises are a great compliment to any fitness routine. In a very short time you will realize the benefits with greater strength, straighter posture, and better balance. Additionally, a strong core helps to protect you from common sports injuries and pain.