The 10 Best Core Exercises For a Strong and Stable Core (Videos incl)
Today, it’s all about 6 pack abs where looks are more important than actually being fit and healthy. Given the fact that a six pack is the aim and envy of every male, what should never be ignored is your core because without core strength, you will not be able to withstand the rigors of workouts. Moreover a strong core maintains stability, balance, flexibility and of course it holds the key to getting those six pack abs. Thus, if you want a well toned body to show off those abs, you just have to work on your core strength. There are no two ways about it.
Table of Contents (Clickable links)
- 1 What is your core and why core strength
- 2 10 best core exercises for working out your entire core
- 3 Conclusion
What is your core and why core strength
Your core can be described as a complex series of muscles that moves far beyond your abdomen. In fact it is used in every possible movement of your body. Be it a punch or an athletic move, your core muscles are involved as an isometric or dynamic stabilizer for transferring force from one extremity of your body to another. The best way to find out how strong your core is to take a core test that reveals the condition of your core.
Your core is made up of six muscles as seen in the image below. Now, there are several articles on the internet each advocating some exercise or the other. You need to focus on exercises that will workout these six muscles after which you will achieve your goal of a strong core and great abs.
Different muscles of your core
This is what you would call your abs or abdominals. It is a paired muscle that runs vertically on either side of the anterior wall of the abdomen. It consists of two parallel muscles that are separated by the linear alba or the midline band of connective tissue. The abs provides flexibility in your torso and the best muscles to work these out is all type of crunches such as a regular crunch and a jackknife crunch.
Also called the external abdominal muscle, it is the largest and outermost of three flat muscles of the lateral anterior abdomen. This contributes to a wide variety of trunk movements and unless strengthened contributes to a lot of strain and injury. Before working out, it is advisable to perform some oblique stretches that conditions the body for a workout. The best workouts for obliques are the side jackknife and seated barbell twist.
These are lateral muscles covered by external obliques which support the abdominal wall. They constitute the second layer of abdominal muscles assisting the body in forced respiration. It also aids increasing pressure in the abdominal area and helps rotate the trunk along with other muscles. The best muscles for internal obliques are plank twist and incline twisting crunches.
This is the muscle layer of the lateral and anterior abdominal muscle walls. It is regarded by most fitness instructors as the most important part of the core along with abs. The muscle helps in compressing he ribs, viscera and maintains stability of the thoracic cavity and the pelvis. It is these muscles that help in women delivering a baby. So by this you should know that even women should strengthen their core. The best exercises for transverse abdominus are supine leg extension, glute bridges, plank and quadruped lifts
These are vertical sets of paired muscles that straighten or rotate the back. They extend throughout the thoracic, lumbar and spinal regions. Spinal erectors contribute to a strong back. The best exercises for spinal erectors are deadlifts, Romanian chair hyperextension and stability ball extension.
These are called illiopsoas or the inner hip muscles. The illiopsoas are the strongest of hip flexors and is used most importantly for running and walking. The best exercises for hip flexors are leg lifts, inner hip flexion and knee crunches
10 best core exercises for working out your entire core
1. The Plank
The plank is a good exercise to start training and working out your core. As an exercise for beginners and both men and women, you can even do this at home. The regular straight arm plank with both elbows on the floor is the easiest to perform but it isn’t easy as you think to maintain the position for at least two minutes per rep. Start with 30 seconds and increase day by day. Do at least 3 reps.
Plank with Arm/Leg Lift or Bird Dog
In plank position but with your palms on the floor, lift one arm and keep it outstretched in front of you. Simultaneously stretch out the corresponding foot backwards. Maintain the position as mentioned earlier. This is good for stability and balance. It also increases stamina.
In the high plank position, engage your abs to jump your legs in and out. Keep your arms beneath your shoulders and stationary. This workout uses the abs a lot. You can start with 30 counts for three reps and increase gradually
Weighted Single Arm Plank
A weighted single arm plank is a variation of the single arm plank and is meant for advanced core training. Don’t attempt this when you have just started on planks. The single arm weighted plank will grill your body and condition it for more rigorous workouts by improving spinal alignment.
2. V-Sit Hold
This targets your abdominal muscles to improve balance and abs strength. It works up multiple areas of the core and targets the rectus abdominus, external obliques, internal oblique and hip flexors.
3. Hollow Body Hold
A good abs workout popular for stronger abs and it won’t sprain your lumbar spine. This could be regarded as the best core exercise for core strength because it involves the entire body.
4. Twisting crunches
One of the most effective crunch workouts that target your stomach and muscle fibres all at once. In a crunch position, you need t raise your torso to a 45 degree angle and twist from side to side as shown in the video link.
5. Mountain climbing
The mountain climbing or mountain climber is a great exercise to work out the abs. The mountain climber tightens your core and also strengthens the back.
6. Supermans with a twist
This targets your back muscles and is fantastic for a good posture. It stretches the body and improves flexibility. It also works the glutes and hamstring muscles.
7. Ball plank
This is a ball related exercise that increases stimulus to the core. It is an extremely challenging workout and needs your whole hearted attention. Never take your eyes off the ball and brace every muscle in your body for maximum benefit.
8. Barbell rollouts
This will need to be done in a gym where you need to use a barbell and wheel it slowly under your body. Your upper body should be parallel to the floor and arms over your head. Your hips also should never touch the floor which keeps you elevated. This also targets the lats, deltoids, hamstrings and triceps so basically you’re getting a full body workout here.
9. Reverse crunches
The reverse crunch targets the lower region of the abdomen, the rectus abdominus which is a problematic area for both men and women. While great for core strength, it works out the external obliques as well.
10. Bicycle kicks
Bicycle crunches or bicycle kicks works out the entire transverse abdominus which is the biggest sets of abs muscles. However while they don’t burn fat, they are excellent to incorporate into your training as one of the best core exercises.
All of these are the best core exercises vital for core strength and stability. They help you with a complete workout as they target each and every core muscle and engage them into play.
When you workout and strengthen your core, you improve at sports, household chores, and everyday physical activity simply because you strain less and feel physical fatigued less because of an increased stamina and strength