5 Core Exercises One Must do to Look Good and Feel Better!
When reading up on the Earth and its composition, you might have come across terms like crust, mantle, and core. Like our planet, we too have a core that supports the rest of us and contributes greatly to our working biomechanics.
Before we jump into today’s main discussion on the 5 core exercises that one must do, here’s a couple of points to keep in mind.
Now, let’s take a jump and learn more about what the core group of muscles are and their utility in our mobility.
What are the core group of muscles?
Like most other muscle groups, this one too is divided into subcategories. There is the major group of core muscles and the minor group of core muscles.
Major core muscles include:
The pelvic floor muscles are the ones that control all organs and your will in an around your lower abdomen. It plays an active role in keeping your bowels, uterus, and bladder healthy and top-notch.
Then there is the transversus abdominis which makes up the front and side layers of the abdominal wall. Made up of horizontal muscle fibers, this muscle runs all the way from the end of the ribs to the pelvis and plays a major role in respiration, and keeps the internal organs locked and loaded.
Next comes the rectus abdominis (the coveted abs), or what most people think core strength is all about. However, it doesn’t disappoint when it comes to usefulness and helps keep the spinal column very, very healthy. It also comes in handy for your side bends and extreme stretches, if you are into that kind of things.
The final pair of the major muscles in the core is the oblique group. The internal and external obliques are at right angles to each other. Obliques keep your core side strong, your trunk solid, compress your abdomen, and contribute greatly to the contraction of the spinal column.
Minor core muscles include:
In the minor group there is the latissimus dorsi, gluteus maximus, and trapezius. All of these are found in the rear.
The latissimus dorsi is what people generally train for when they want a wider back. On the other hand, if you want swift leg movements and great back support for your major core muscles, then the gluteus maximus (or glutes) need to be highly developed to handle the pressure.
Last of the lot, the trapezius muscles or traps make a good connection between the scapula and the spinal column. Traps can be responsible for improper posture and also help you keep your shoulders steady and your neck and head, free.
Now that you have a complete idea of what makes your core, let’s focus on the exercises. We are going to state 5 of them that will help you strengthen your core.
However, to add more value to your core workout regime, we are going to mention 5 you can do at home and 5 you can do if you have a minor back injury. Excited? Let’s take a look now –
5 Core exercises you must do at home
Not everybody can manage the time to get a workout in the gym. However, just because you can’t make it, there is no reason for you to live a life shrouded in laziness. If you are someone who is always busy on your computer or do a desk job, then core workouts are an absolute must.
Neglecting it for too long could lead to a slouched posture, and pain in the lower back – something that no one is looking forward to. But, there is no need to worry! Here are 5 core workouts you can easily do at home – all its going to cost you is 45 minutes to an hour of your time.
1. Crunches for warm up and strengthening
After you have done a little jogging to get the blood flowing, crunches are a good way to start your core regime. This exercise works on your rectus abdominis muscle group, interior obliques, and exterior obliques. It is a good exercise for contracting the region and keeping it under pressure – which will make it more tensile with time.
Depending on your level of expertise, your crunches can range from anything between 20 to 200 a day. However, don’t overdo it on day one, keep things to a minimum and progress gradually. 3 sets of 10 to 15 crunches is always a good start.
#Pro tip 1: Bend your knees while crunching. This reduces any risk of injury in the lower end of the spine of the pelvic bone.
2. Side bending to tone those love handles
If you are looking to tone your oblique region (also popularly known as love handles), then side bends are a great exercise to do so.
It targets the internal and external obliques, and is a fairly beginner level exercise that needs no equipment. Nevertheless, if you want to make it some kind of a challenge, you can always buy resistance bands online or try it with 2 liter water bottles.
3. Enjoy the benefits of the lotus pose
The pelvic floor muscles are located inward within the abdomen, and while it is important to train them – it is also equally hard. Mere brute force is not enough to get there. However, one can try sitting in the yogic lotus pose or padmasana which strengthens the muscles in that region.
This pose also helps you to be more attentive, have a correct sitting posture, and can be very helpful in relieving cramps during your menstrual cycle. Get to this pose and relax in it for 5 to 10 mins and practice deep breathing; try to feel your diaphragm moving up and down, concentrate on your back posture, and relax your mind completely.
4. The Shoulder Blade Squeeze
When training your traps, you must remember that this muscle plays an important part in keep your shoulder blades or scapula functional and stable. This exercise is done simply by holding out your arms in the goalkeeper position and then pulling it back to contract the muscles.
One must remember to feel the effect of their movements on the muscle. This will effectively isolate the part in question and train them, effectively. In case you are interested in a little more challenge, a resistance band is a good idea.
5. Pullup and Jumping squat combo
Hitting the latissimus dorsi or the largest muscle in your upper body and gluteus maximus (the principle extensor muscle on the hip) at the same time is going to be easy with this combo. Get to a pull up position, complete one rep, drop down and dip for a full squat. A more challenging version is to combine the pull up for a jumping squat.
Complete repetitions according to your strength and endurance. If you are an absolute beginner, then doing 10 for the day is going to be good enough.
#Pro Tip 2: Don’t push yourself too hard on day one – the secret to health is consistency, not a one hit wonder.
Now, let’s talk about the women who might be suffering from a back injury. In such cases, strengthening your core can be a key part of your rehabilitation – however, you must know what to do.
Here’s the 5 rehab core strengthening exercise
a. The Reverse Plank – If you have a lower back injury, then the reverse plank is a good way to build back your core strength and rehabilitate the injury. It’s a simple exercise that requires you to lie on your back with your knees making a triangle on the floor. The exercise requires you to perform a simple movement of lifting your pelvis towards the ceiling while keeping your upper back stuck to the floor.
Repeat this movement at least 10 times in one set. This motion will give your spinal column a stretch, relieving your lower back stress and strengthen your core muscles at the same time.
b. The wall stand disc rotator exercise – Another simple yet effective rehab exercise, this one needs the support of a wall to be done right. All you need to do is stand parallel to the wall facing sideways. Stick close to the structure and raise one arm at full stretch to your shoulder height and rest it for support. Then pick up the leg that is closer to the wall to your hip height, bent at the knee. Tilt your hips lightly upwards to touch your pelvic bone at the side on the wall and come back to original position. Remember to feel side and anterior contractions and do it precisely, don’t just swing fast like a wrecking ball. You should notice some relief in your back pain and your core should do better with 3 sets of 10 for each side.
c. Lying sideways leg raise exercise – If you are looking for a chill out rehab exercise for your lower back pain that is also going to work on your core, then this is the one. All you need to do is lie down on your side. Use one hand to support your head above the floor, and the other hand to hold your hip bone. Now raise the leg away from the floor and take to a backward kick position. Hold it for as long as you can, then rest it – do this at least 10 times in each set.
d. The Yoga Cat Pose – Introducing a little bit of yoga to your overall back rehab and core strengthening regime is a great idea. It helps you relax and keeps your core in good health as well. The cat pose is performed on all fours and it involves an inhalation and exhalation movement – you can find a detailed video online!
e. Supine twist – This is another popular rehab exercise for your obliques, hip flexors, and lower back pain. It’s easy too – you need to lie on your back, bend your legs and stick your knees together; then twist it from one side to another. Do all of it very slowly – this will help your back to be stable and core strong.
Depending on your core status and condition, you can follow each of these 5 must do exercises. These sets cover all parts of the major and minor core muscles and strike a balance – something which is often missed by people swinging weights at the gym.
The core muscles are a vital set to our well-being, mobility, and overall strength. One you start training them well, you will be able to measure your growth in performance as an athlete. Also, the above rehab exercises will help with your back injuries and is a great assistance to women between 40 and 55 who are often afflicted by it.
In case you were wondering about the washboard look you wanted for summer, you don’t need to worry. These exercises can bring it to you with a little bit of resistance and lots to cardio, which will keep your subcutaneous fat levels low and make sure that you don the bikini in style.
Remember, when it comes to work outs, show and functionality should go hand in hand. Whenever the former takes over your mind, the latter will suffer. Fitness is a lifestyle and your desired look will come with time and consistency – there are no short cuts. Believe in yourself, and focus on your strength rather than a waist size, the rest will follow.
So, what are you still waiting for? Start your core routine with the 5 exercises you must do from your home and if you want to work on your lower back injury – your time is now!
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