Core training is largely a misunderstood concept as most people think of their 6 pack (rectus abdominus), when you mention the word core.
The core actually represents the muscular structure around your entire midsection which includes your Erector Spinae, Obliques, Transverse Abdominis, Pelvic floor and the already mentioned Rectus Abdominis.
These muscles play a key role stabalising the upper body in everyday life but the demand is even higher during physical activity thus its recent increase in popularity, they also help protect the spine.
Here is a picture detailing some of those muscles to give you a better visual.
Below are 5 Core exercises we use at Absolute Health and Fitness kindly demonstrated by two of my fantastic clients Louise and Elaine.
Each exercise challenges multiple areas of the core not only to help strengthen and protect the body but also to train the core muscles to work in unison by stabalising, flexing and extending.
- Swiss Ball Plank
At some point in time everyone has tried a plank and although a good exercise it soon becomes an endurance race, unless you’re a beginner you should be progressing your planks to the Swiss Ball Plank or another more challenging plank variation.
In the video below Elaine demos the basic Swiss ball plank for the first 10 seconds this progresses to roll-outs making it substantially more difficult.
Although this is an extremely difficult exercise for most as it is, you can make it even more difficult by adding some weight as shown in the picture below featuring another two of my clients Elaine and Keira.
2. Ab Roll-outs
An exercise often butchered by trying to go too far, the primary objective for Louise here is to keep her core stable, when clients are doing this exercise we are watching closely for any excessive flexion or extension in the lower back, the less movement the better.
Again this is a very challenging exercise but introducing some holds can make it even more challenging, try rolling out and holding it for 5-10 seconds for 5 reps.
3. Renegade Rows
Once again, an exercise often seen done very wrong, this again is a core stability and anti-rotation exercise, lifting the weight from the floor makes you want to rotate the body because it’s easier but the aim is to keep as still as possible, minimising the rotation of the upper body.
4. 1/2 Dead Bug
The most challenging part of a Dead Bug is when you extend your leg, if you allow your lower back to come off the floor during this part of the exercise you more than likely will start to notice your lower back getting sore.
Pin your back to the floor and keep it there!
5. Hollow Hold
The hollow hold, Elaine (at the back) is performing the full version which has both the arms and legs extended, Louise is doing the half version with the knees bent.
The full version isn’t necessarily physically more demanding, its just harder to do properly.
Both will make you shake like a leaf.
6. Side Planks
Side planks are one of those boring but extremely effective core stabisation exercises that everyone should be doing.
Shown below is my client Sinead who is using some added weight to challenge herself even futher, for most the side plank along will be sufficent but Sinead has been training with me for nearly 5 years so she is well capable.