The 6 Best Exercises to Train Your Core

Kelowna Gyms - One Life Fitness - Fit abs

Kelowna Gyms - One Life Fitness - Abdominal muscles

Tips & Advice from the professional personal trainers at OneLife training gym in Kelowna.

Do you dream of the ultimate six-pack abs, being able to knock that tennis ball with more power, cycle farther and faster than you ever did before, or are you just looking to improve your core muscles to lift your grocery bags into the trunk without expending too much effort? Core exercises are a vital part of a well-rounded fitness program, though apart from some push-ups and sit-ups, many people ignore the core in favour of targeting a particular muscle group. All types of training will benefit from a stable and strengthened core. We’ve collated the 6 best exercises to train your core and improve your overall body strength, stability and reduce the risk of injury to the lower back.

WHAT IS THE CORE?

Your core is a complex series of muscles, extending far beyond your abs and covering virtually your entire body except the arms and legs. Simply put, your core muscles are those around your trunk and pelvis. For almost any movement of your body you are using some aspect of your core. Core exercises train the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen to work in harmony. This leads to better balance and stability in sports and in daily life. Having stable core muscles is essential for most sports and physical activities. Stability is the extent to which the body is able to respond to a situation in which disturbance in the body’s equilibrium. Good balance is characterised by the ability to move or rotate your limbs without compensation in the spine or pelvis.

WHAT ARE THE BEST CORE TRAINING EXERCISES?

Glad you asked. Here they are…

Stability Ball Crunches

  • Begin by sitting on the ball and then rolling out until the curved (lumbar) portion of the spine conforms to the shape of the ball.
  • With the angle at your knees 90 degrees, the calf and shin are perpendicular to the floor, and your glutes/ sacrum firmly touching the ball, push your lower back into the ball and curl. The ball should not move.
  • Exhale fully at the top, or peak of the contraction, and hold for 1 second.

 

Floor Crunches

  • Begin by lying on the floor and placing your hands on your thighs.
  • Push your lower back hard into the floor, tilt your pelvis forward (think tucking your tail between your legs), and slide your hands up your thigh until the palm touches the top of the knee.
  • Exhale at the top, or peak of the contraction, and hold for 1 second.
  • Look upwards and position your tongue on the roof of your mouth behind your teeth.

 

The Dish

  • Push your lower back hard into the floor, tilt your pelvis forward (think tucking your tail between your legs), straighten and extend your legs at an angle 45 degrees to the floor, and reach for the middle of your shin.
  • Your lower back should form a ‘dish’, shoulder blades off the floor and your lower back pushed hard into the floor.
  • Hold this position for the specified duration.

 

Hanging Leg Raises – Abdominal Straps

  • Place your arms into the straps tightly to the armpit to fully support your bodyweight.
  • Begin by tilting your pelvis forward and bring your knees upward to touch your elbow. Round your lower back as much as possible throughout the movement to increase the lower abdominal recruitment and reduce the assistance of the hip flexors.

 

Hanging Leg Raises – Grip Overhead Bar

  • Grip bar firmly with an overhand grip.
  • Begin by tilting your pelvis forward and bring your knees upward to touch your elbow. Round your lower back as much as possible throughout the movement to increase the lower abdominal recruitment and reduce the assistance of the hip flexors.

 

The Bicycle

  • Lay on the floor with your fingers interlaced behind your head, your lower back pushed firmly into the floor, and your knees drawn towards your chin.
  • Fully extend one leg at the same time as you twist and try and touch your knee with your opposite elbow.
  • Try to maintain both shoulder blades off the ground as you twist the torso and extend your leg.

 

Please remember not to try and improve everything at the same time. Too much work will backfire and lead to injury, overtraining and lack of motivation. Work to improve one thing at a time. Pick a duration and then put your energy and focus into making improvements over that time period, then pick something else to improve upon. By picking a duration between 4 and 8 weeks, you will see adaptation from the training and reduce the possibility of mental and physical fatigue caused by over stimulation.

At One Life we are here to help you get the most out of your workout. Your personal trainer can help you decide which routine is right for you to help you meet your goals. For more information on training your core, and for sample workouts, contact us today.



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