How to get a stronger core

By on May 9, 2022 0

Want to know how to get a stronger core? To get started, understand that the core is more than the abs – it’s a set of muscles that stabilize and move the spine and form your body’s base of support.

Improving core strength isn’t just about looking good or having a six-pack. We need strong abdominal muscles to help us perform our daily activities, getting out of bed and bending over, turning over and standing up.

But a weak core can mean you’re more likely to have poor posture, lower back pain and poor balance, and it also makes exercising harder. What’s the secret to getting a stronger core? We asked an expert for tips and tricks to improve core strength.

How the kernel works

Angie Bell, Personal Trainer and StudioBelle Gym Owner, says, “The core muscles provide posture control and stability, and they also connect the upper body to the lower body, helping to transfer forces from the body. to each other.

People often think of the trunk as one muscle, but there are several. “Major core muscles include your transverse abdominals, sometimes called ‘corset’, internal and external obliques, which help you bend, twist, and perform other spinal movements, diaphragm, muscles of the pelvic floor and the ‘six-pack’ or abdominal muscle, the rectus abdominis,” says Bell. But that’s not all.

Your minor core muscles also include the lats, traps, and glutes – they all have their own purpose to help support and stabilize your spine or pelvis.

“Trunk muscles fire up before activity and this signals to our nervous system that something is about to happen, so the trunk prepares for support. A weak trunk means that other muscles will experience the pressure, which will likely cause lower back pain or injury,” says Bell.

She adds, “Core strength is important for exercise, even for moves that don’t specifically target the abs. Working on core stability might even help you perform better in workouts. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that runners who did six weeks of core strength training increased their speed over a 5,000m run.

Woman doing side plank

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Benefits of a strong core

“A strong core will not only help you do better sit-ups and abs, but it will support the body as it moves,” says Bell. “When you train your core, your lower body becomes stronger as a result. This is especially important if you enjoy weightlifting, as it will protect your back muscles and mean you are less likely to injure yourself. In contrast, weak abdominal muscles can lead to poor posture and lower back pain.

Are you a running fan? Your core muscles keep you upright as you run and allow your pelvis, hips, and lower back to work together.

“Your arms and legs are connected to the core, so the stronger it is, the stronger your limbs are, so core strength might even help you run faster,” Bell says.

Core exercises stimulate the cerebellum, an area of ​​the brain responsible for coordination, spatial awareness and balance. Basic training is therefore as good for your body as it is for your mind.

Basic exercises to try

Buttock bridges

Man performing glute bridges outdoors

(Image credit: Getty)

While the sit-up or crunch might seem like the most obvious basic exercise for gaining strength, there are plenty of others that are just as effective, if not more so, according to Bell. If you are new to the exercise, gluteal bridges are a good basic movement to start with.

“This activates your glutes to lift your hips, which helps strengthen your core while toning your thighs and butt,” says Bell.

To perform them, lie on the floor with your feet on the floor and your knees pointing up. Keep your hands and arms extended beside you. Then lift your hips off the ground so that they form a straight line with your knees. Hold the position for three seconds before lowering back down.

If you want to make it even harder, try extending one leg at a time while you’re at the top of the position.

Toe taps

Woman lying on her back holding her legs at a 90 degree angle above her

(Image credit: Getty)

“Toe taps are good because you’re lying down while you do them, so they relieve pressure on the ‘core’ — useful if you’re prone to back pain,” says Bell.

Want to try them? Start by lying on your back with your legs in tabletop position and your hands under your back as shown in the image above. Then, lower your right leg and foot to gently tap the floor, while your other leg remains in the air. Make sure to keep your knee bent at a 90° angle throughout the movement. Once you have tapped the ground, return your leg to its original position, then do the opposite leg.

dead bug

Women performing a dead bug exercise during a class

(Image credit: Getty)

“Dead bugs are another great beginner exercise for core strength because they’re easy to do without putting pressure on your back,” says Bell.

Begin by lying on your back again with your knees in a table position, as you did for the previous exercise. This time however, you will also need to extend your arms above you so that they are pointing towards the ceiling. Engaging your core, lower your right arm behind you as you extend your left leg toward the floor; both limbs should be a few centimeters off the ground. Slowly return your limbs to their original position, then perform the exercise again on the other leg and arm.

Resistance training

Woman doing squat with dumbbells

(Image credit: Getty)

If you want to achieve a stronger core, incorporate resistance training into your workouts. “Compound movements that work multiple muscle groups are a great way to improve core strength. Squats and deadlifts are good examples. I also like the plank because it stimulates the core and targets the deeper abdominal muscles,” says Bell.

“Standing exercises put more pressure on the core to stabilize, so an exercise like a barbell squat is a good exercise to try. I love kettlebells for conditioning and a kettlebell swing or push press One-arm kettlebell swings are good moves for getting a stronger core.The swing in particular is trained through the lower body targeting the glutes, abs, hamstrings and posterior chain, which is important for strength of the trunk.

“To target the obliques or lateral muscles, try a squat to an overhead press with rotation, either with a kettlebell or a single barbell. It’s a great waist cincher and a great way to get a toned and strong midsection.

Don’t have much space for weights at home? Check out our guide to the best adjustable dumbbells. Or – if you’re really short on space – check out our list of the best resistance bands instead, which can also be used in resistance training.

Yoga and Pilates

Woman doing yoga

(Image credit: Getty Images)

As we know, core exercises help stabilize your lower back, which can greatly benefit your ligaments and muscles: from a greater range of motion to improved flexibility.

If you want to get a stronger core and improve your flexibility at the same time, try one of the 7 types of yoga or do Pilates. They are great for strengthening your core and back muscles. Yoga moves like boat pose, plank or side plank, and incline crow are especially good.

Pilates is a low impact workout well known for its core focus. The movements balance strength with mobility and align the body while strengthening deep core muscles.


References

Does Core Strength Training Influence Running Kinetics, Lower Extremity Stability, and 5000-M Performance in RunnersJournal of Strength and Conditioning Research (2009)