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7 Exercises for a Stronger Core

7 Exercises for a Stronger Core

A lot of people do ab or core exercises for vanity purposes. Yes, it is true that if you religiously do ab exercises, it can help trim down the fat on your abdomen, making your stomach feel and look tighter. However, aside from beauty, ab exercises offer more benefits. Here are some of the best stomach exercises you can do to achieve a more toned ab and stronger core.

Abdominal Training vs Core Exercise

Abdominal training focuses on the shortening and tightening along with controlled lengthening of the abdominal muscle. People tend to forget that the abdominal muscles are also used isometrically and eccentrically. Forgetting about this aspect may become the cause of pain in the lower back when performing ab exercises.

The main function of the ab muscle is to stabilize your torso to maintain good posture and balance.

Core exercises, on the other hand, not only focus one muscle but on more than 20 different muscle groups in the back, pelvis, hips, and stomach. Doing core exercises improves your balance, and it also makes your muscles stronger.

Core exercise include co-contraction of abdominals along with muscles groups of the hip and pelvis area to improve efficiency of movement. Having a stronger core would essentially mean that muscles of the hip and lower extremities will have a more stable lever coming from the core.

Exercises for Toned Abs and a Stronger Core

Here are 7 best stomach exercises that can help you achieve a more tone physique:

1. Forearm plank

A plank seems like an easy exercise, but it involves the four major muscle groups, which means a simple plank works out different parts of your body all at the same time. The plank strengthens your spine, glutes, and abdominal muscles, which are essential in improving your posture.

How to do it?

  • Position yourself like you’re about to do a push-up but, instead of your palms touching the ground, use your forearm instead.
  • Make sure that your elbows are right beneath your shoulders
  • Keep your feet in an outstretched position with the bottoms of your toes touching the ground.
  • You can clasp your hands to form a “V,” or you can just make them into a fist, according to your preference.
  • Remember that your body must be elevated from the ground with only your forearm with your toes supporting the entirety of your body’s weight.
  • The form of your body should be a straight line from your head to your feet.
  • It would be optimal to engage the serratus anterior while performing planks by driving your elbow into the floor and pushing your spine upward. Another important aspect of a plank is that the lower abdominals need to also be engaged by keeping the pelvis neutrally rotated, and preventing hyperextension the low back.
  • Hold this position long enough until you feel a burning sensation in your core.
  • Keep your head in a neutral position, and don’t forget to breathe normally.

2. Crunches

If you want to achieve strong abdominal muscles and six-pack abs, crunches are the best for you. Crunches are one of the best stomach exercises that you can do to build stronger muscles around your core.

Crunches will strengthen your abs along with hip flexors depending on how high up you perform the crunches. Obliques are only optimally targeted when involving twisting movements like pointing your elbow to the opposite knee.

How to do it?

  • Lie flat on your back with your legs bent upright, forming a triangle.
  • Place your hand on your chest or your nape.
  • Contract your abs and inhale.
  • Lift your upper body while exhaling.
  • Keep your head and neck relaxed to avoid injury.
  • Maintain the tension on your back, inhale, and go back to the starting position.

3. Side plank

A side plank is a full-body exercise that mainly targets your obliques but also trains your hips, chest, and shoulder muscles.

How to do it?

  • From a forearm plank, twist your entire body to your side, lifting one arm and stretching it towards the sky while the other forearm stays on the ground and supports your weight.
  • Tension of the abdominals. Make sure that the force is coming from muscles in the core. It’s better to properly engage the core rather than achieving multiple reps.
  • Maintain your position for some time without dropping your hip to the ground.
  • Repeat the same process on the other side.

4. Sit-ups

Sit-ups strengthen the abdominal muscles. Though sit ups strengthen the abdominal muscles, trying to bring your entire torso up towards your knees during sit ups will cause the hip flexors to activate. Too much hip flexors while performing sit ups may lead to tightness of these muscles, faulty posture and low back pain. It is not bad to do sit ups but the person needs to become aware of what muscles are being trained when performing sit ups.

Compared to crunches, sit-ups also train and give stability to other muscle groups like your hips and lower-legs.

How to do it?

  • Lie flat on your back and bend your legs upright and place your feet under a piece of furniture or anything that can keep it from moving.
  • Put your hands on your chest or behind your neck without stressing your neck.
  • While contracting your abdomen, raise your upper body until you almost reach a sitting position.
  • Maintain the tension on your abdomen and slowly lower your torso until you reach your starting position.
  • Remember to do this exercise slowly and with full control.
  • If you place your hands behind your head or ear, avoid using it to lift your head, as it can cause serious neck strain.

5. Dead bug

The dead bug is a great and effective exercise to strengthen your core, spine, and back muscles. If you’re looking for a safer way to make your posture better and prevent back pains, then dead bug exercises are what you’re looking for.

How to do it?

  • Lie flat on your back and lift your arms and knees. Make sure that your knees are at a 90-degree angle.
  • Put tension on your core and simultaneously lower your right leg and right arm until your heels and arm nearly touch the ground. Driving the elbow into the floor will help make exercise easier and teaches the muscles to work with your abs altogether.
  • Hold the position, go back to the start, and repeat on your other leg and arm.

6. Toe touch

A toe touch exercise is a core exercise that targets your abdominal muscles, obliques, spine, and hamstring.

How to do it?

  • Lay flat on your back and make sure that your legs are in the same extended position in front of you, with your hands on your sides.
  • Lift your leg as high as you can and bring forward your torso as close to your feet as possible so that your fingers can touch your toes.
  • Keep your legs straight up and continue touching your toes until your set is done.

7. Hip bridge

The hip bridge exercise is an effective way to train your glutes and hamstring. But, when done properly, it can also strengthen your core muscles.

How to do it?

  • Lie on your back and put your hands on your sides.
  • Bend your knees, and keep your feet in place by placing it flat on the ground. Make sure that your feet are placed beneath your knees.
  • Contract your abdomen and glutes while you lift your hip.
  • Adjust your position until you form a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
  • Hold your hip position for a few seconds and slowly bring it down.
  • Go back to your starting position and repeat.

The 7 Best Single Full Body Exercises You Should Master

Benefits of Core and Ab Strengthening Exercises

Commonly, a lot of people commit to exercising for vanity purposes. But aside from getting toned abs and stronger core muscles, there are more benefits that you can reap when doing these stomach exercises.

Core and ab exercises benefits include:

Improving your balance and postural stability

When training your abs and core, you are not just trimming the fat from your tummy, but you are also building muscles in your pelvis, lower back, and hips. Exercising these muscles simultaneously can improve your balance and posture stability.

Helping you continue with your fitness journey without a need for equipment

Since core and ab exercise can be done without additional gym equipment, then you can continue exercising even when you are not in the comfort of your own home. If you want to take your exercise routine to the next level, then that is when you can use gym equipment like stability and Bosu balls.

Having a strong core helps you do physical activities easier

The strength of your core and ab, as well as the improved balance that you gain by doing ab and core exercises, can help you accomplish physical tasks easier. This is advantageous is you do strenuous physical movements daily.

Reducing lower back pain

When you religiously practice core and ab exercises, it does not just strengthen your abdominal muscles but the other major muscle groups as well, including your back. Doing these exercises can help improve the flexibility and rigidness of your back muscles and spine, thus reducing instances of lower back pains.

Key Takeaways

People usually do ab and core exercises in the hopes of getting their body ready for the summer. But in truth, not only are they making themselves look good, but they also do it to become healthier. It is important to do ab and core exercises regularly to achieve that toned and lean physique.

Although most of the ab and core exercises are relatively harmless, some might experience discomfort when doing it. Improve your technique or seek the assistance of a fitness instructor to help you properly do the exercise.

Learn more about Health Fitness and Other Fitness Activities here.

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Sources

7 Core Stability Exercises https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/blog/6313/7-core-stability-exercises/ Accessed August 24, 2020

The 5 Best Ab Exercises—And the Ones That Are Wasting Your Time https://www.chatelaine.com/health/fitness/ab-exercises-that-are-wasting-your-time-5-moves-you-should-do-instead/ Accessed August 24, 2020

Core Exercises: Why You Should Strengthen Your Core Muscles https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/core-exercises/art-20044751 Accessed August 24, 2020

The Real-World Benefits of Strengthening Your Core https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/the-real-world-benefits-of-strengthening-your-core Accessed August 24, 2020

Best Exercises for Core Strength https://www.verywellfit.com/the-best-exercises-for-core-strength-3120054 Accessed August 24, 2020

6 Benefits of Abdominal Workouts https://efm.net.au/benefits-of-abdominal-workouts/ Accessed 24, 2020

 

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Written by Mayvilyn Cabigao Updated Jun 15
Medically reviewed by Danielle Joanne Villanueva Munji, OTRP
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