Doing 1000 crunches every single day won’t do much for your core strength. This might surprise some people who think that doing solely ab workouts is enough. However, exercising your core involves a lot more than that. In this article, we’ll go over 5 exercises you can do to increase core strength.
You use your core muscles in just about any activity you do. They affect your balance, your posture, and your stability as well. They are the essential muscles of the body you need to perform every other workout correctly. Establishing a strong core foundation will help every other muscle group exercise, such as lat pull-downs, chest press, squats, and more.
Here are the muscles that make up the core:
- Erector spinae – the back muscle that extends your trunk and helps you stand up straight after bending over.
- Rectus abdominis aka “abs” – the muscles you use when you bend over or crunch. These are the “6 pack” muscles.
- Obliques – Made up of the internal oblique and external oblique. These are used when you rotate or bend your trunk.
- Transverse abdominis – This wraps around the front and side of your trunk, stabilizing your pelvis.
- Multifidus – The muscle in your back that supports your spine.
Do you understand now that crunches just aren’t enough?
No need to worry yourself. We’ll explain some exercises you can do to increase core strength – no matter what level of fitness you are at.
5 Exercises to Increase Core Strength
- Plank. While this exercise may seem simple, it is quite effective. To perform this exercise, you support your body on your forearms and toes while keeping your body in a straight line. The key here is to keep your back flat and not let it droop or let your glutes rise. There are a couple of ways to modify it depending on your level of fitness. You can drop your knees to make it easier, or straighten your arms to make it more difficult.
- Hanging knee raise. Prop yourself up on a set of dip bars. Extend your arms and drop your legs so that they are hanging. Raise your legs and squeeze them towards your chest, the lower them slowly. Repeat. If your dip bars are padded, you can modify to make this easier by supporting your weight from your elbows. To make it more difficult, keep your legs straightened.
- Battle rope alternating waves. Alternating waves are a popular battle ropes workout. To perform this, wrap the center of battle rope around a sturdy object. Pull both of the ropes towards you so that they are even in length. Stand up straight with your feet hip width distance apart and take one rope in each hand. Bend your knees, roll your shoulders back, and activate your core. Then, whip one arm up, creating a wave-like motion with the rope, and as you bring it down, whip your other arm up. Continue alternating these movements as fast as you can while bracing and controlling the rest of your body.
- Ball push-away. For this exercise, you will need a large exercise ball. Put the ball in front of you, and lower your elbows onto the top of it and extend your legs straight out behind you so that you are in the plank position. Keeping your back completely straight and core engaged, push the ball away with your forearms, then bring it back maintaining the plank position. Repeat.
- Russian Twists. There are a variety of ways to perform Russian twists. One of the most popular ways to do this is to sit on the ground, knees bent, and feet on the floor with a kettlebell to your right side. Straighten your back, roll your shoulders back, and lean slightly backwards, activating your core muscles. Lift your feet off of the floor and keep them elevated. You can either straighten your legs out so your body is in a V shape to make it more complicated, or keep your knees bent in a tabletop position. Twist to your right and grab the kettle bell, keep it lifted in front of your chest, and twist to your left. Keep twisting to either side while keeping your legs elevated and back straight.