When aiming to lose belly fat, many people go straight for crunches — as they try to enhance the look and feels of their abs. The truth is, when it comes to your core, you need to focus on more than your abs. Your core muscles essentially connect your upper and lower body, improving stability.
When your core is weak, you will impair full-body function, balance, posture, and more. Whether you’re gardening or doing household chores, a strong core can make a big difference in terms of your overall wellbeing — it can even help reduce symptoms of low back pain.
Benefits of A Stronger Core
There are many benefits surrounding a stronger core, including:
- Injury prevention — As you build a stronger core, you’re essentially strengthening the deep internal muscles that lay close to your spine. Over time, these muscles will help you prevent future injuries based on greater stability and enhanced movement.
- Reduce pain — Believe it or not, a common side effect of a weak core, is lower back pain. As you build stronger core muscles, you’ll help improve balance between the front and back of your body. It’s also important to be more mindful of how you sit on a day-to-day basis, as good posture is very important.
- Achieve a more chiseled look — Before you work muscles that you actually see, you need to work your core. As those muscles become stronger, you will be able to work on your six-pack.
From protecting your internal organs to feeling more confident, a stronger core does wonders for your health and self esteem. Not sure where to start? Give these exercises a whirl.
Try These Exercises to Maximize Core Strength
There are many exercises available, so you will need to choose options that fit your needs and overall level of fitness. Although crunches are easy to perform and can be done just about anywhere, switch up your routine with these exercises:
- Barbell squat — Since your core muscles act as a ‘trunk,’ it’s important to stabilize them. Unlike traditional crunches, this exercise will offer increased muscle fiber activation in the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and the obliques — both external and internal.
To do: All you need to do, is stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding the barbell the back of your shoulders. Lower your body to the floor, bend your knees, and then push your heels back into starting position. Repeat.
- The Teaser — This Pilates move activates all your key core muscles, all within a simple, straightforward movement. This exercise will help you learn how to breath properly, maximizing oxygen intake.
To do: Lie on your back with your arms extended over your head, lifting your legs in the air (holding at about a 45 degree angle). As you inhale, roll both your head and shoulder off the mat, pull your ribs in and exhale — your entire body should be off the mat, except for your bottom. Reverse and repeat.
- Plank — There are different variations of a traditional plank, so as you become more experienced, you can switch it up. This exercise will not only help you develop your core, but also your shoulders, glutes, and arms.
To do: Start in a pushup position, before bending your elbows so that your forearms rest on the floor. Your body should form a straight — hold this position for a minimum up two minutes.
Whether you want to lose weight, combat chronic back pain, or live a healthier life, you’ll want to work out your core muscles. As you support and strengthen this part of your body, you will notice a wide range of long-term benefits.