How and Why to Strengthen Your Core Muscles
To get ready for swimsuit season, you are probably doing a lot of targeted exercises to get in shape. You are likely focusing on your abs and thighs the most, and doing what you can to drop a few extra pounds before you have to squeeze into that swimsuit. There is a huge factor that many people are missing out on as they are getting ready for summer, however, and to their own detriment. That factor is the importance of core strengthening.
What Exactly Is the Core?
Your core muscles are a group of muscles running down the center of your body. These include your abdominal muscles, back muscles, and your pelvis. All of these muscles contribute to your overall balance and strength.
How Does Core Strengthening Help?
Core strengthening helps on many levels. At its most basic, your core strength comes into play in everyday activities such as lifting your groceries and vacuuming your house. Your core is your center of balance and strength for almost everything you do, especially when it comes to working out and getting in shape. A strong core can help you be more successful with all your workouts, as it gives you the best canvas to work from.
How Can I Strengthen My Core?
Core strengthening exercises are the best way to get your core in shape. These exercises will not only improve your core strength, but they will also help you tone your abdominal muscles, back, butt, and thighs so you can make big strides toward your summer fitness goals. Even better, these exercises can all be done from home so there is no gym membership required.
1. Yoga and pilates
Yoga and pilates type exercises are the most popular workout routines that are aimed toward building a strong and healthy core. You can find yoga and pilates videos online, on DVD, or even learn poses from books and magazines. These are easy to do from home and most routines do not even require any sort of equipment.
Planks are an exercise that you might find difficult in the beginning, but as you core strengthens you will find it easier over time. Planking is great for the whole body, from your arms all the way down through your legs, and is actually touted as being a better exercise for your abs than crunches.
Start by getting into push-up position on the floor, but rest on your arms at 90-degree angles. Straighten your whole body out, through to your feet up on your toes. Use your core muscles to hold the position for as long as possible. Each day, hold a little longer.
3. Balance ball
Using a balance ball helps you to focus on your core muscles when doing certain exercises. You can use a balance ball to do push-ups, crunches, and more. Even simply sitting on a balance ball instead of a chair helps you strengthen your core muscles during the day.
Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Lean back to a 45 degree angle and hold your arms out straight beside you. Slowly lift your feet off the ground, using your core to keep yourself steady. Extend your legs out so that your body forms a “V”. Hold this position as long as possible, using your extended arms to help maintain your balance.
Start in the same position as the v-sit, leaning back at the 45 degree angle and arms straight out beside you. Extend your legs out just like in the v-sit, but then bring them back to your body, not resting them on the floor. Repeat this motion ten times, rest, and then repeat.
Starting in crunch position with your hands behind your ears, reach your elbow to the opposite knee, extending the other leg out. Repeat the motion, alternating sides, and working your legs as if riding a bicycle. Continue the motion for an extended period of time, at least 30 seconds, before resting and then repeating.
Core strengthening is where great workouts and a great body start. If you are wanting to get toned and fit for summer, core exercises are what you want to focus on.
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