Working out our core muscles provides us with many benefits. The abdominals are not just there for looking good at the beach, although many people work their core because they like to have the washboard stomach. The core muscles also have a huge role in providing proper alignment of the body structures and help us keep a perfect posture. I will teach you the best core exercises for achieving all of these results.
The core muscles are a group of muscles that surround the trunk, and consist of the abdominals in the front, obliques on the sides and low back muscles. The gluteal muscles are also considered part of the core because they help to stabilize the trunk and legs as well. There are many layers of core muscles, some more superficial and some that are deep and act as an internal corset around the spine.
Before we talk more about how to strengthen our core, there are a few other key pieces to the puzzle to go over. One is the awareness of where our body is at in space. Do we know what proper alignment and posture looks and feels like? This is when the joints are stacked on top of each other and the spine is upright with each vertebrae stacking like perfect building blocks to form the building. The head is on straight and the chin is level with the ground.
Another key piece of the puzzle is an awareness of when we are not in a proper posture, and making a change in our body position. Awareness is important and each time we correct our poor posture into a better one we are training our body. Our body will get used to being in a good posture and over time it will become more of a habit and less of a chore.
So now back to working on our core muscles. There are tons of core training exercises out there. Here are a few of my favorite ones, for each part of the core that we discussed.
- The abdominal muscles. My favorite abdominal exercises are “dying bug,” air bicycles, crunches, plank and side plank.
- The back muscles. My favorite back muscle strengthening is laying on the stomach and lifting up into back extensions, “super-hero” exercise (lifting arms and legs at the same time), and “bird dog.”
- Gluteal muscles. For this, I like “clamshells,” side-lying hip abduction with extension, side step with a resistance band.
If you would like specific training on these particular exercises, seek out the guidance of a physical therapist. They will ensure that you are performing the exercises correctly and that these are the right ones for you. There are also a ton of progressions of these exercises that are available for when these become easy– meaning, you get even stronger! It’s good to challenge our bodies with our strengthening so we are making progress toward all goals. The stronger your core, the better alignment and posture you will have. And, as an added benefit, you may see that washboard stomach appear and feel confident in how you look at the beach!