core exercise

How to create a strong centre core

A centring core doesn’t start and end with sit-ups, as any proud owner of a six-pack will agree. Firstly, it takes a steady and well-nourished food regime with these key core exercises to really centre the body.

Abdominals are one of the most important groups of muscles in our body, and having a stronger core will help you perform daily tasks better as well as improve your fitness level. The muscle group we are focusing on for this session is part of the rectus abdominis — your “six-pack” muscles. These middle abs are crucial for flexing your spine and bringing your pelvis and ribcage closer. By igniting your middle abdominal section with these exercises you’ll be building a stronger core from the get-go.

There are multiple real body benefits to a stronger core. Think of your core muscles as the sturdy central link in a chain connecting your upper and lower body. Whether you’re mopping the floor or doing yoga, the necessary motions either originate in your core or move through this section of muscles. No matter where the body motion starts, it ripples upward and downward to the adjoining links of abdominal muscles and the spine chain. Therefore a weakness or immobile set of core muscles can impair how well your arms and legs function. Correctly building up your core will provide a strong core that enhances balance and stability. This fact is increasingly more important as we age, and it can help prevent falls and injuries during sports or other activities.

A strong, flexible core will improve everyday acts like bending to put on shoes or scoop up a package, turning to look behind you, bathing, dressing, sitting in a chair or simply standing still — these are just a few of the basic actions that rely on the core. Our centring core will improve work tasks in our jobs or chores that involve lifting, twisting and standing; all rely on core muscles — even vacuuming, mopping and dusting are acts that spring from, or pass through, the core. Our core and spine are affected by sitting at a desk for hours; therefore, not engaging your core can make back muscles surprisingly stiff and sore, particularly if you’re not strong enough to practise good posture and aren’t taking sufficient breaks.

The possibility of building a healthy back and lowering back pain is in sight by completing a set of slow, mindful core exercises that promote well-balanced, resilient midsection muscles. As you would expect, strong abdominals will improve your sports and other activities like golf, tennis, biking, running, swimming, kayaking and many other athletic pursuits. Less often mentioned are sexual activities, which also call for core power and flexibility. A mobile trunk section will cause a valuable increase in balance and stability as your core stabilises the body, thus allowing you to move in any direction, which also lessens your risk of falling.

The most important improvements are posture and mobility. Good posture projects confidence. More importantly, it lessens wear and tear on the spine and allows you to breathe deeply. Good posture helps you gain full benefits from the effort you put into exercising, too. Weak, tight or unbalanced core muscles can undermine you in any of these realms. And while it’s important to build a strong core, it’s irresponsible to aim all your efforts at developing just abdominals. Balanced body training is key to overall wellness and health. Add these new centring core combinations to your weekly training routine to really feel stronger.

Below you’ll find 10 core-centring exercises that will improve your core. Complete repetitions of 10 to 20 of each exercise and do at least five of these exercises daily. Feel free to set your own program with your favourite core exercise; however, I recommend completing the full 10 each week. It’s time to start building a strong midsection today for a better tomorrow.

10 core-centring exercises

V-ups

Starting on your back, extend your legs and keep your arms by your side. In one movement, lift your upper body, arms and legs to balance on your tailbone, forming a V shape. Lower your body down. Repeat.

Heel tap crunches

Lie on your back with your heels near your glutes. Brace your core, lift your shoulders off the floor and reach down to touch your right heel with your right hand, then your left heel with your other hand. Repeat.

Hollow holds

Lie on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you and your feet together. Extend your arms above your head. Tilt your pelvis forward until your lower back is flush against the floor. Maintaining this position in your lower back, raise your arms and legs a few inches off the floor to create a straight line from fingers to toes. Repeat.

Side jackknife

Lie on your side with your left arm extended out on the floor and your right arm bent to your head with your elbow bent out. Make sure your right leg is on top of your left. Bring your right elbow to your left leg as you raise your body up, contracting your obliques, and slowly lower down before swapping sides after reps. Repeat.

Cocoon

Lie flat on your back with your arms extended behind your head and your feet slightly off the ground. Pull your knees towards your chest, lift your backside off the floor and lift your arms over your head as you perform a crunch and repeat.

Sandbag or weights sit-up

Lie with your back on the ground and your knees bent upwards. Hold a sandbag up above you with both extended arms and crunch forward as you tense your core so your body performs a V shape with your thighs. Carefully lower down and repeat.

Superman with a twist

Note: This exercise will feel hard so please take your time. Lie on your stomach and place your hands on your head. Raise your torso and twist your chest from one side to the other. This move will not only target your abs but can also help combat that dreaded back pain. Repeat.

Russian twists

Sit holding a weight with your arms extended and feet off the floor. Under control, quickly twist at the torso, turning from side to side. Repeat.

Butterfly sit-ups

Lie on the ground with your arms extended past your head. Bend your knees and have the soles of your feet facing one another so they’re in
a diamond shape. Crunch your abs to a sitting position as you reach forward with both hands to your feet. Repeat.

Overhead crunch single leg

Lie on your back with your arms extended straight over your head so your body forms a straight line. Bend one knee up and keep one leg flat on the floor then, keeping your arms locked, sit up and contract your abs to crunch your shoulders off the floor. Repeat.

DEMO PHOTOS BELOW

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Belinda Norton is health and fitness educator and personal trainer with 23 years’ experience. She is a published author of Fit Mama, health writer and shares her women’s wellness and body alignment expertise. Belinda is a mother of two teens, speaker and children’s health advocate. Connect with her at blivewear.com or Instagram @Belinda.n.x.

Belinda Norton

Belinda Norton

Belinda Norton is health and fitness educator and personal trainer with 23 years’ experience. She is a published author of Fit Mama and writer for Kid Spot, and shares her women’s wellness and body alignment expertise. Belinda is a mother of two teens, speaker and children’s health advocate. Connect with her at blivewear.com or Instagram @Belinda.n.x.

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