Core Strength Exercises - here are 3 of the BEST The core we refer to, is your torso - from top of your neck to base of the spine, and all muscles in an around the area. Core muscles not only include "the six-pack" but also levels of abdominal muscles that wrap around your torso, pelvic floor and also back.
These include: rectus abdominal, transverse abdominal, the pelvic floor, back muscles and the abdominal obliques. All these muscles are very important - most back pain is attributed to weak abdominals.
The rectus, tranverses and obliques are responsible for bending and flexing. However when you're doing crunches and sit-ups you're using mostly the rectus muscle and not much else. You won't gain too much core strength - but you will get a good looking six-pack!
So how do I exercise core muscles?
OBLIQUE ABDOMINALS are core muscles which wrap around your torso. In this position lift diagonally across the body - left armpit to right knee and vice versa. The obliques are the muscles around the "corset" area and consist of the external obliques and the internal obliques. The obliques engage when you want to twist and bend sideways. They're a bit like an old fashioned corset - and that's what they do - support you.
A quintessential pilates core strength exercise - the "HUNDREDS": Hold this position, and pump arms up and down slowly. Inhale for 2 breaths and exhale for 2.
The SINGLE LEG STRETCH is another fantastic abdominal core strength exercise. In this position, stretch out the left leg, placing your hands on the right knee. Then change to the opposite. Inhale on one side, and exhale on the other.
These leg lifts are a brilliant core exercise, but best not to try this if you have any lower back problems. The important thing to remember is to hold your body a "straight" plank position, don't leg your hips drop to the floor. Your core muscles are working beautifully here.
The transverse abdominal wrap around your body like a girdle. Although evidence suggests that these muscles are automatically engaged before exercise, pilates methods encourage you to learn how to "turn on" those muscles during exercise.
There are 2 ways of doing this:
Imagine a small zip from the naval to the pubis bone (just like your jeans). Now close the zip from the pubis to naval - ZIP UP! This is done on the EXHALED BREATH.
The pelvic floor muscles using the
Pelvic Floor Technique
is another method of "turning-on" those core muscles as you exercise. Pelvic Floor Exercises are much neglected with our exercise routines - and are ESSENTIAL to help develop core strength. They have the added benefit of involving ALL core muscles. It'sso very important to do them - no matter how old you are.