A flat tummy and toned abs is what we all wish for, especially in summer. However, when it comes to a healthy body we should rather focus on a strong core.
Many people don’t know the difference between abs and the core and take it as a synonym. But your core is much more than your abs. It’s a complex series of muscles and it includes so much more than your abs.
Having a strong core will support your body in your day to day life, improve your posture and prevent back pain. We use our core every time we move. Thus, it is a vital part of our body and we shouldn’t forget to train it.
Especially if you’re traveling a lot and carry a heavy backpack, it is important to have a strong core as it has to work a lot to stabilize your spine to keep you in an upright position. That’s why today I want to show you some of my favorite core exercises and give you a little detailed information on what the core is and what it does.
People often take “core” as a synonym for abs which is not true. Usually, the core is referred to as the midsection of your body, involving all your muscles in that area. It’s the collective term that is used to describe muscles that control your spine, in particular your waist and lower back as well as your abdominals. The core includes all the muscles that attach to the spine, as well as hips and pelvis, proximal lower limb and abdominal structures. Much of your body strength derives from your core.
In simple words, the core acts as a stabilizer and a force transfer center. It is used every time that we move. You could refer to your core as your “powerhouse”. It facilitates movements and even houses your inner organs and central nervous system. But it does even more than that:
1. Your core helps prevent injuries It is important that you build core stability as well as core strength. Core stability however, comes first as you want your deeper muscles to work first. With core stability you will protect your spine and surrounding musculature from injuries in static and dynamic movements. While maintaining core stability, we then want to produce and transfer force during dynamic movements. To ensure that our movements are pain-free and strong, we need a rock-solid center.
2. It protects your nervous system and your inner organs Your core houses your organs and your nervous system as well as your body’s largest veins and arteries. You definitely want to protect these with strong core muscles.
3. It will help you improve your posture The best way to improve your posture is to strengthen your core. Additionally to your abdominal muscles, your core includes muscles in your hips and back. These work together in order to stabilize your spine. Without strong core muscles your spine doesn’t have adequate support which will eventually result in a weak posture. Thus, a strong core can help you stand tall and confident.
4. A strong core helps you getting rid of back pain A common side effect of a weak core is back pain. As explained before, if your core isn’t strong enough, your spine doesn’t have enough support to maintain a perfect posture. Now your other muscles have to compensate to help you stand tall. This can lead to neck and shoulder tension, lower back pain, and injuries. A strong core can thus help you stay injury- and pain-free.
These nine exercises will help you get a strong core and a flat tummy. Try to do around ten to 15 reps of each exercise.
Start with your feet, your bottom, and your hands on the ground. Slowly push your hips up and engage your glutes. Now lift the right leg up as high as you can and reach with your left hand for it, trying to touch the toes, whilst still staying in your crab position. Then switch leg and hand.
From a standard plank position, come into a side plank. Now bend your upper knee and try to bring it together with your top elbow. Whilst doing that, keep yourself strong and don’t lean forward or backward. Do this 15 times, then repeat on the other side.
Come into a forearm plank position. Then move your hip from left to right, trying to almost touch the ground. Beware that you only move your hip, not your upper body.
Start by sitting on the ground with your legs bent and lifted, forming a 90 degree angle. Your elbows should be touching your knees or thighs. Then lower your upper body down but still keeping your head up, extending your arms over your head. At the same time straighten your legs so that they come into a 45 degree angle with the ground. Crunch together again and let your elbows meet your knees. Keep in mind to always keep your abs engaged in order to prevent getting into a hollow back.
Lie with your back flat on the ground and bring your legs straight up into the air until they are directly over your hips, forming an L-shape. Your arms are pushed into the ground next to your body. Now lift your hips off the ground by pushing your feet towards the ceiling. Make sure that the movement is coming from your hips and that you keep your legs straight.
This exercise is similar to Elbows and Knee Touches. It also starts with you sitting on the ground with your legs bent and lifted. This time however, you are forming a circle around your knees with your arms. Then straighten the legs and bring them in a 45 degree angle, bring the arms over your head and lower your upper body, just not all the way down. Keep your abs engaged at all time.
A resistance band is super practical as it fits into every bag and is such a versatile workout partner.
Sit on the ground with your knees bent, heels touching the ground. Put a resistance band around your thighs to spice this core exercise up a little and to also work your thighs at the same time. Your hands should push into the ground behind you, fingers pointing to your booty. Now start engaging your core muscles and lean your upper body back only as far as it feels comfortable for you but far enough to feel your muscles. Now tap the right heel to the right side and back to the middle. Do the same with the left foot. Repeat 20 times.
Lie flat on the ground with a resistance band around your feet. Place your hands behind you with your fingers pointing to your butt and lift your upper body up a little, yet still feeling how you have to engage your core muscles. Also, lift up your legs, keeping them straight, in a little less than 45 degree angle. Now pull one knee towards your chest, thus stretching the resistance band. Repeat the same on the other side, always keeping your upper body up. For an extra challenge you can also place your hands behind your head, the way you do it when you do standard crunches.
This exercise is the extension of the Resistance Band Pull core exercise. Lie flat on the ground, put a resistance band around your feet, and lift your legs up in a little less than 45 degree angle whilst keeping them straight. Bring your upper body up as if you were doing a crunch and pull your knee toward the chest. Now form a circle around the bent thigh with your hands, then bring the leg back straight again while you lower your upper body and bring your arms above your head. However, don’t lay your upper body down, your core should be engaged at all times.