Having a strong core is super important for doing well in lots of different sports. Think about it: rowing, golf, dancing… they all need a strong core. But even for stuff you might not think of right away, like playing darts or Ping-Pong, your core still matters. It helps you stay steady and gives you power.

But having a strong core isn’t just about sports. It makes everyday stuff easier, too. You’ll get hurt less, stand up straighter, and keep your balance better. Plus, your back won’t ache as much.

The thing is, a lot of people don’t really know how to train their core right. They think it’s all about doing a zillion sit-ups or holding endless planks. But that’s not the best way to go about it. Thinking that doing a ton of crunches will magically fix your back pain or make your core strong is just plain wrong.

Let’s take a closer look at what exactly the core is, and what it isn’t. Plus, we’ll check out a workout that covers all the bases to help beef up your core muscles.

General things about the core

What is the core?

What is the core?
What is the core?

If you think the only aim of working on your core is to get those famous six-pack abs, well, you’re looking at it too narrowly. Actually, your core isn’t just about your abs.

So what is the core? Core is a team effort involving lots of different muscles. Sure, your abs play a big role, but there’s more to it. You’ve got deep muscles in your pelvis, hips, and back, along with smaller ones that help stabilize your spine, and even your diaphragm gets in on the action.

Picture your core as a cylinder that wraps around your middle. It’s not just a flat six-pack zone; it’s a whole bunch of muscles working together, from your pelvis right up to your neck, hugging your trunk—the main part of your body where most of your organs hang out. These muscles are like teammates, all pitching in to keep you stable and strong.

Benefits of core strength

Body’s power source

Your core is like the middleman for transferring power from your legs to your upper body. It’s what gives you that extra oomph when you’re serving in tennis or smacking a softball out of the park. According to David Behm, who’s been studying core fitness for two decades, if your core isn’t strong, you lose out on a lot of that strength and power.

Imagine this: You’re lifting a heavy box or scooping up a kid. It’s not just about how strong your core muscles are; it’s also about how long they can keep it up. If they get tired or weak, your back’s ligaments have to step in and help out. But relying too much on them can lead to strains and back pain.

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Gives you stability

If you want to boost the endurance of your core, try exercises like side planks and dead bugs. These moves target deep muscles in your core, like the ones in your pelvic floor:

  • The transverse abdominis: is a deep muscle located in your abdominal area. It wraps around your torso like a natural corset, providing stability and support to your spine and pelvis. Think of it as your body’s built-in girdle.
  • The multifidi: are small but mighty muscles found along your spine. They run vertically and help stabilize each individual vertebra, supporting your spine’s natural curvature and aiding in movements like bending, twisting, and lifting. Essentially, they act as crucial stabilizers for your back, contributing to overall spinal health and function.

When these muscles are strong, they help spread out the pressure from activities like lifting heavy stuff or gardening. This means your spine doesn’t have to bear all the weight on its own.

It’s all about teamwork in your core. You don’t want your lower back doing all the heavy lifting. You want all those core muscles working together to keep your pelvis and spine steady.

Some exercises to boost core strength


Plank is one of the core strengthening exercises
Plank is one of the core strengthening exercises

The plank is like a superstar in the exercise world. It’s simple, needs no special gear (which might be why even celebs are challenging each other to do it on TV!).

Here’s how it goes:

  • Lie on your stomach on a mat.
  • Push yourself up so you’re balancing on your elbows, forearms, and toes.
  • Keep your back straight, body aligned, and hips level. Slightly tuck in your tailbone.

Remember to breathe!

  • Start by holding this position for just 10 seconds
  • Then gradually work your way up to a full minute.

The plank really targets your abs, obliques (those muscles on the sides), deltoids, chest, and triceps.

Dead Bug

The dead bug might have an unusual name, but it’s a great exercise.

Here’s how it goes:

  • Lie on your back with your legs up in the air, knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
  • Lift your arms straight up toward the ceiling.

Now, while keeping your spine flat against the floor,

  • Slowly extend your left leg and lower your right arm behind you until they’re just above the ground.
  • Then, bring them back to the starting position.
  • Repeat with your opposite arm and leg.
  • Remember to exhale as you extend and inhale as you return to the starting position.
  • Start with two sets of five reps, then work your way up to three sets of eight reps.

This exercise really targets your transverse abdominis (those deep ab muscles), rectus abdominis (the “six-pack” muscles), obliques, and pelvic floor muscles.

Suitcase Carry

Suitcase Carry
Suitcase Carry

For this one, grab a weight that feels a bit challenging but not too heavy.

Here’s how it goes:

  • Hold it in one hand, making sure to keep your whole body tight and your back nice and straight.
  • Keep your shoulders and hips squared up.
  • Now, either march in place or take a stroll for about 30 to 60 seconds.
  • Then, switch hands and repeat on the other side.
  • Do this routine three times on each side.
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This exercise really targets your transverse abdominis (those deep ab muscles), obliques (the muscles on your sides), multifidi (important back muscles), and even your forearms.

Side-Lying Thoracic Rotation

Get comfy on a mat, lying on your left side with your knees bent. Place a pillow or a ball between your legs and squeeze it tight.

Here’s how it goes:

  • Now, slowly rotate your upper body until your left arm is reaching up toward the ceiling and your right arm is reaching over to the opposite wall.
  • While in this position, lift your shoulders up off the mat a bit, then lower them back down and return to the starting position.
  • Do this movement five times, then switch sides and repeat.
  • Start with just one set of five reps, then gradually work your way up to two sets of eight reps.

This exercise is great for targeting your external obliques (those muscles on the sides of your abs) and abductors.

Upside-Down Turtle

Next one is Upside-Down Turtle exercise that can boost your core strength!

Here’s how it goes:

  • To start, lie on your back with your legs up in the air and your knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
  • Now, place your right hand on your left knee and your left hand on your right knee.
  • As you straighten and extend your right leg, reach back with your left arm.
  • Then, return to the starting position.
  • Repeat this movement five times, then switch sides and do it again.
  • Begin with just one set of five reps and gradually work your way up to two sets of eight reps.

This exercise targets your obliques (those muscles on your sides), glutes, and abductors (the muscles that move your legs away from your body).

Jumps and Hops

You don’t have to go all out with NBA-style leaps; simple hops will do. The key is to engage your core muscles to stabilize yourself.

Here’s how it goes:

  • Before you jump, your core muscles kick into gear to prepare your body for the leap and the landing.
  • Try adding some vertical or lateral side-to-side jumps to your routine.

This exercise works your internal obliques, erector spinae (the muscles along your spine), transverse abdominis (those deep ab muscles), and the muscle groups that keep your spine and pelvis steady.

Some advice

Exercises that involve twisting and rotating are super effective for beefing up your obliques, those side muscles, way more than old-school moves like sit-ups or planks. Plus, they also do wonders for strengthening the multifidi, which are key for keeping your back safe from injury.

Let’s be real, core workouts are tough. You barely hold a plank for a minute before feeling that familiar burn creeping in. But hey, here’s a tip: When you’re feeling the strain, distract yourself. Pop on your favorite show, crank up some tunes, or get lost in a podcast. Before you know it, time will fly by, and you’ll forget all about the pain of planking.

Core strength is also neccessary for you to perform flare, so if you’re interested in it, check out this YOUTUBE video!

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