Many people ask: How to Build Core Strength? Before answering this question, let us tell you what core strength is and why it’s important. The core is an anatomical box of various muscle groups, including the rectus abdominis, the external and internal obliques, lumbar multifidus, erector spinae, and quadratus lumborum. It also consists of a pelvic floor, diaphragm, and the iliac psoas.
A growing body of research evidence shows the significance of core training and strength, leading to improved performance, reduced risk of lower back pain and extremity injury, and decreased risk of musculoskeletal disorders, including:
- Excessive load on the lumbar spine
- Imbalanced hip extensors
- Back pain and sciatic pain
- Decreased range of motion
- Postural disorders
What is Core Strength?
Core strength refers to your body’s central strength. When you want to perform a specific activity that requires force, your body will engage the central muscles, particularly those surrounding your torso, before activating your limbs for movement.
A kinetic chain in your body connects all muscles, but the central core muscles stabilise them. You need a stable base to generate a force, and your core muscles perform this function. For those who are lucky enough to be on our Addicted2Golf programme, core work is a vital part of our workouts for this reason.
Why do You Need to Build Core Strength?
When someone talks about core strength, things that come to your mind are rock-hard abs, washboard stomach, and six-packs. Although many people’s objectives revolve around these things, building your core strength offers a wide range of other benefits.
Your core includes muscles, such as abdominals, with muscles around your hips, pelvis, and spine. These muscles keep your core area stable and activate your limbs. You need a solid core to create strength within your body for everyday and intense activities, such as sports.
A strong core allows you to shift from your hips and trunks’ muscles to the extremities, reducing the risk of injuries and withstanding powerful athletic movements. The energy produced from your core helps you run faster, jump higher, hit, kick, and throw with more power. Not only do you feel energetic, but you also achieve toned abdominal muscles.
Whether standing, sitting, walking, running, or jumping, your core muscles are involved in almost all movements you make. Remember, your core is the central hub of your body that connects the upper and lower body structures.
Most people think that extremities do the majority of the work. However, most movements start at the body’s central area and move outward. Building a core foundation and strengthening it is crucial for people of all ages. This is why we always say that the main strength exercises of squats, deadlifts, military press, bench press and pull-ups are the greatest exercises for our core muscles. Here are some of the benefits of building core strength. Read on!
Most people tend to sit for hours each day and round their shoulders or slouch forward. Remember, this can weaken your core. However, when you focus on developing your core, you will have better posture while sitting, standing, and walking.
Good and strong posture helps you look taller and reduce the risk of structural problems in your spine, such as wear and tear in your thoracic and lumbar spine. Besides, better posture helps you breathe easier, improves digestion, and leads to optimal blood circulation.
Enhanced Stability and Balance
Your core muscles surround your spine and pelvis, creating strength, stability, balance, and support for other structures, such as tendons, ligaments, tissues, and even nerves. Strengthening your core muscles can effectively stabilize your body. For instance, it reduces the risk of falling and allows you to stand firmly on even and uneven surfaces.
A weak core is the leading cause of different injuries. Research highlights that injuries occur when your body muscles become imbalanced. Some muscles in your body may end up tight and short, whereas others become weak and overstretched.
Your body overuses other muscle groups due to decreased strength to compensate and produce movements. A lack of core strength contributes to lower back pain and sciatic pain. However, building core strength allows your body to become more resilient and prevent the risk of injuries. If you have a current injury and require specialist Strength and Conditioning, get in contact to arrange a consultation today.
Whether performing daily living or athletic activities, you need more energy and effort if you have a weak core. On the other hand, if you have a strong core, you can carry out any activity efficiently without the risk of damaging your musculoskeletal system.
For example, unloading the dishwasher or swinging a golf club requires your core muscles to work collaboratively and perform the movement effectively and safely. Because weak muscles need more energy for movements, they can affect your metabolic strength, leading to various complications.
Training the major core muscles allows your body to have improved strength and flexibility in the musculoskeletal system. Not only do you perform everyday living activities effectively, but you also have enhanced athletic performance.
How to Build Core Strength: Workouts for core strength
Experts recommend incorporating various workouts for core strength to target multiple muscles in your core. Because you move in different planes, including front and back, side to side, back and front, and rotate, it is essential to perform workouts for core strength and flexibility in each plane.
Remember, when you limit core training to simple crunches or focus on workouts to create “six-packs,” it won’t produce a well-rounded core. Let us now discuss some of the best workouts for core strength to achieve your goal. Continue reading!
A 2018 research study highlights that plank is one of the best core strengthening exercises contributing to a healthy posture, balance, coordination, improved flexibility, metabolism, and even mental health. It is an excellent static exercise to work your inner core. Here are the steps:
- Begin by positioning your body in a pushup
- Keep your elbow under your shoulders
- Engage your core to lift your body
- Make sure your body aligns in a straight line from your shoulders to your toes
- Stay in this position for at least 30 seconds or at most 60 seconds
2. Side Plank
Side plank is one of the challenging workouts for core strength. However, it promotes stability and balance in your body by focusing on your obliques. Here is how you can perform this exercise.
- Lie on your side and keep your bottom elbow underneath your shoulder
- Make sure your forearm is perpendicular to your body
- Position your top foot in front of your bottom foot
- Elevate your hips and form a straight line from your shoulders to your toes
- Stay in this position for at least 30 seconds
- Repeat the exercise on the opposite side
3. Bird Dog
Bird dog is an anti-rotation core stability exercise that requires shoulder and glute strength and coordination. It improves stability, strengthens your spine, reduces the risk of lower back pain, and improves your hips, core, and spinal muscles. Not only does bird dog exercise promotes proper posture, but it also increases your body’s range of motion.
- Kneel on the floor and position your knees and feet hip-width apart
- Place your hands under your shoulders with shoulder-width apart
- Extend your left arm in front of your body
- Extend your right leg slowly behind you
- Make sure both are parallel with the floor
- Lower your left arm and right leg to the floor
- Repeat the exercise on the other side
- Repeat this movement at least 15 to 20 times per side
“Clamshells” is one of the most effective workouts for core strength that focuses on your gluteus medius muscles, leading to pelvis stabilization. A 2015 research study shows that “clamshells” helps balance your muscular effort between your outer and inner thighs. Likewise, the exercise strengthens your pelvic floor and also contributes to your lumbar spine’s health. So, how to build core strength with clamshells? Follow the steps below!
- Lie on your side and bend your knees at 90 degrees
- Stack your feet and hips
- Ensure your head rests on your arm
- Lift your knee while keeping your feet stacked
- Repeat this movement 15 to 20 times
- Make sure you keep your pelvis stabilized throughout the exercise
A 2018 research study published by NCBI states that the superman exercise targets the erector spinae muscles in your core and lower back. These muscles play a crucial role in back extension and strengthen the glutes, hamstrings, shoulders, cervical spine, and abdominal muscles.
The exercise also increases your body flexibility and allows you to perform different activities effectively, including bending, lifting, squatting, etc. It also prevents lower back injury by maintaining a good posture. Here are the steps to perform this exercise.
- Lie on your stomach and stretch out your arms and legs
- Lift your arms and legs off the floor
- Stay in this position for a set duration of time
- Lower your arms and legs to the starting position
- Repeat the exercise depending on your stamina
6. Supine Hip Extensions
Supine hip extension is one of the most effective core strengthening exercises that target your glutes and hamstring muscles. The exercise improves your core flexibility and strengthens the glutes for better pelvic alignment and lumbar spine support. Likewise, performing this exercise regularly will strengthen your hamstrings, allowing you to walk, run, and jump effectively.
- Lie on your back and place your heels on top of the ball
- Contract your abdominal muscles and lift your hips off the ground
- Make sure your squeeze your glutes to have your body in a straight line
- Hold this position for a few seconds and return to the starting position
7. Seated Oblique Twist
How to build core strength with a seated oblique twist? Is it an effective exercise? The answer is “Yes.” The oblique twist works on different core muscles, including the rectus abdominis and internal/external obliques. If you want to add some tension to your core muscles, we recommend using a stability ball, medicine ball, or weight. Here are the steps to perform the seated oblique twist.
- Sit on the floor and bend your knees
- Elevate your feet off the floor
- Rotate your body from side to side slowly
- You can also do this exercise without a medicine ball
Pushups are an excellent exercise for building strength in your upper body. It targets your triceps, shoulders, and pectoral muscles. When you do this exercise correctly, you can also strengthen your lumbar spine and engage your core muscles, including abdominal muscles.
Not only are pushups an effective exercise for building core strength, but it also increases your heart rate, leading to fat metabolism and improved homeostasis. Here is how you can do this exercise effectively.
- Place your hands on the floor shoulder-width apart
- Anchor your weight in toes
- Keep your spine flat
- Engage your abdominal muscles
- Flex your elbows at a 90 degrees angle while lowering your body
- Return to the starting position by extending your arms
9. Side Crunch
Side crunches work on your internal and external oblique muscles. However, they also target your transverse abdominus, pectorals, deltoids, gluteus medius, and minimus. Follow the steps below to perform side crunches.
- Lie on your back and bend your knees at a 90 degrees angle
- Rotate your torso to the left or right
- Position your hands behind your head or ears
- You can also place one hand on your abdomen
- Flex your abdominal muscles and raise your shoulder and torso off the ground
- Repeat the same procedure on the other side
10. Oblique Crunches
If you are looking to engage your abdominal walls and strengthen the internal and external obliques, look no further than oblique crunches. It is an excellent exercise to sculpt your waist by burning the accumulated fat effectively and quickly. It also tightens your core, strengthens your spine, tones your abs, and improves flexibility in your body. Here are steps to perform this exercise:
- Lie on your back and bend your knees
- Fold your arms across your chest
- Tighten your abdominal muscles
- Lift upper back off the floor and rotate your right elbow toward the left knee
- Return to your back slowly and rotate your left elbow toward the right knee
- Make sure you hold for two seconds and repeat the steps 10 to 15 times
11. Dead Bug
How to build core strength with the dead bug exercise? The dead bug is an effective exercise for people of all ages who want to strengthen and stabilize their core and spinal muscles. It improves your posture, relieves back pain, and enhances balance and coordination between your core muscles. Here are the steps to perform the dead bug.
- Lie on your band and bend your knees and hips at 90 degrees angle
- Maintain a neutral pelvic position and keep your spine still
- Now, straighten out your leg without touching the ground
- At the same time, raise your opposite arms over your head
- Make sure your spine does not arch during this movement
- Hold for two seconds and return to starting position
- Repeat on the opposite side
- Make sure you do this at least 10-20 times in two sets
12. Isometric Oblique Stabilization
Isometric Oblique Stabilization is one of the most effective core strengthening exercises. It puts tension on your muscles without moving the muscles in the surrounding areas. When you apply constant pressure to your core muscles, you can improve your posture and physical endurance. It is because this exercise strengthens and stabilizes your core. Here are the steps to perform this exercise:
- Start the exercise in the supine position
- Bend your knees and bring one knee up to 90 degrees
- Use the opposite arm to resist the elevated knee
- Contract your oblique muscles while keeping your head and shoulders on the floor
- Make sure your knee has no movement during the oblique contraction
- Hold for two seconds and repeat the exercise at least ten times
13. Abdominal Bracing
Abdominal bracing is one of the simplest workouts for core strength, allowing you to transfer power and energy to your core muscles, leading to reduced spinal motions and protection against injuries. That way, you can lift heavy objects without damaging your core or spinal muscles.
- Lie on your back
- Tighten your abdominal muscles
- Draw your stomach down toward the floor
- Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 15-20 times
14. Med Ball Chops
Med Ball chops are an excellent strength training exercise that targets your shoulders, obliques, hips, and abs. You will need a medicine ball to perform this exercise correctly. It increases the rotational power of your core and improves your hips’ stability and mobility. Here are the steps to perform this exercise.
- Kneel with tall posture
- Activate your core and glutes
- Maintain control and stability
- Move the ball quickly in a diagonal pattern
- Make sure your knee does not turn inward or outward
How to Build Core Strength: Final thoughts
A weak core is the leading cause of numerous musculoskeletal system disorders. When you have a weak core, you will feel fatigued and have an increased risk of injuries, especially in the lower spine.
Less endurance is another downside of having a weak core. Likewise, a weak core makes you more vulnerable to poor posture, muscle, injuries, lumbar spine pain, osteoarthritis, and even disability.
So, how to build core strength? Follow the tips above and incorporate these core strengthening exercises into your daily or weekly workout regimen to achieve your health goals. Continue to do your strength exercises such as squats, deadlifts and remember, they are the best core exercises you can do when performed correctly. Until Next Time!