The idea of getting flat abs is super motivating, but this isn’t the only reason to start doing core workouts. You know that person that’s always the life of the party? Talking with everyone, refilling drinks, and schmoozing with all the guests? That’s your core when it comes to movement. It’s a total attention junkie, wanting to be included in everything. Whether you’re moving in the transverse (twisting), frontal (side-to-side) or sagittal (forward and back) plane of motion, your core leads it all, in theory. However, if you haven’t built strength or the mind-muscle connection to understand how to engage your core during movement, you’re going to compensate with other parts of your body (like your lower back) and risk potential injury. We say no, thank you.
The benefits of core workouts are massive, and the list goes on, but we’ll break down the top four.
4 Benefits Of a Strong Core
#1 Bending Over Becomes a Breeze
Whether you’re reaching for a top-shelf, picking up groceries, or carrying your kids, everyday activities require core strength. If this surprises you, you may also have some annoying lower back pain. By conditioning your midsection, it may help prevent future injuries, you may notice your back feeling healthier, and your overall movement might start to become easier.
#2 Core Exercises Today Keeps The Back Pain Away
Sitting at a desk all day doesn’t have to be a death wish for an achy back. All it takes is a strong core and viola! With enough awareness of when you’re not engaging your core while sitting coupled with training your midsection, eventually using your abdominals instead of your low back while seated will happen inherently.
And, don’t forget to stretch — these at-work stretches are the perfect complement to working on building a strong core.
#3 Increases Your Exercise Performance Overall So You Can Kick Some Booty
Just like your daily activities, your workouts constantly recruit your core. If your core isn’t responding to those signals, it’s a good sign you need to start including some more abdominal exercises in your routine.
Your core is the powerhouse of every exercise. When it’s strong, you can jump higher, lift heavier, run faster, row longer (the list goes on) while also reducing your risk of injury.
#4 A Stronger Core For Better Posture
Notice yourself slouching? Proper alignment of your spine requires a solid core to support it, so building core strength is a must for standing up straight.
Plus, standing up tall with your shoulders back just exudes confidence, so bring out that inner boss by working on a stronger core for better posture.
What To Look For in an Effective Core Workout
When it comes to strengthening your core, not all workouts are created equal. We’ve all tried the age-old core regimen of doing crunches until we’re blue in the face. And it never takes very long until we throw in the towel and decide a strong core just isn’t meant to be. It doesn’t have to be this way!
An effective core routine actually focuses very little on crunches and a lot more on holistic, functional movements to recruit a number of different muscles in your midsection.
How do you decide if a core workout is going to help you get to your goals? We got you.
#1 Targets Your Transverse Abdominis to Build The Base of Your Core
Your transverse abdominis (TVA) make up the deepest layer of your core. They’re also responsible for keeping your hips, pelvis, spine, and even your internal organs supported during all movement.
Having a strong TVA is also crucial to sculpting those sexy abs we’ve all craved since Britney Spears dominated the MTV music video charts. However, as important as it is, your TVA is not easy to reach as it lies near your pelvis and horizontally across your abdomen.
Exercises that engage this area include:
- Lying Leg Lifts
- Single Straight Leg Stretch
- Flutter Kicks
- Single-Leg Pulses
#2 Tones The Rectus Abdominis For Sexy Abs
Your rectus abdominis is the top muscle layer responsible for a coveted six-pack. Composed of two long muscles that run from the middle of your chest to your pelvis, this large muscle plays an important role in the stabilization of your core.
Exercises that activate this important part of your center, include:
- Mountain Climbers
- Double-Leg Crunches
#3 Tones Your Obliques For a Nice Waistline
The largest of your core muscles, including exercises that target your obliques, will get your lightyears closer to the sculpted and strong core you want.
They’re star players in bending side-to-side, torso rotation, and spine stabilization that don’t get enough credit.
As well as twisting/rotating exercises like:
- Russian Twists
- Side Planks
- Side-Lying Leg Lifts/Circles
- Criss-Crosses/ Bicycle Crunches
#3 Includes Exercises to Strengthen Your Back
A healthy and strong core comes from a holistic approach to training it. If you neglect to strengthen and stretch the muscles on the other side (i.e., your lower back), you may experience some muscular imbalances that lead to injury and pain.
An effective core workout will include exercises like:
- Knee-To-Chest Stretches
- Pelvic Tilts
- Leg Lifts
- Supermans (or womans).
The Core Workout That Will Change Your Life
Pilates is a legacy secret of long, lean dancers who rely on strong cores to be successful in their careers and minimize injuries. If you’ve never tried Pilates, let us introduce you.
Pilates is a low-impact strength workout that focuses on, you guessed it, your core, posture, flexibility.
Trainer Cassey Ho is a Pilates master, and this traditional 20-minute mat Pilates workout, Core Crusher, takes you through some of the most effective exercises to strengthen your entire torso. Cassey breaks down exactly how to do each exercise for optimal effectiveness, so it’s perfect for all fitness levels.
With exercises that target your transverse and rectus abdominis, obliques, and lower back, doing this workout two times per week will give you the sculpted and strong core you crave.
Putting Your Core Workouts Into Practice
This Pilates core workout will take your fitness results to the next level when incorporated twice a week as part of a total body training regimen.
So what do the other days look like? It depends on how many days a week you’d like to work out. You can try mixing it up to find a good balance of what works best for you such as scheduling in at least two other days of total body strength training and four to five days of cardiovascular training, like running, walking, HIIT cardio, boxing, swimming, cycling, or dancing.
Ready to start on building that stronger core today? Grab your mat and go take Cassey Ho’s Core Crusher workout and start supporting your body’s foundation.