Like any good coach, physical therapist, or personal trainer knows- the key to being fit and strong is good core strength. These are the abdomen muscles, the lateral muscles that run along the side, the hip, and the dorsal muscles that support the back and spine. In reality, this could also include a huge number of stabilizer muscles that run throughout the body. For this discussion, we will talk mainly about the back, sides, and abdomen muscles. Also, we will discuss ten ways to improve your core strength.
We’ve all seen those guys at the gyms near you in Vancouvers West End BC, who have huge arms, legs like marble pillars, and a stomach that you could wash towels on. But all too often, they lack the stabilizing strength that the core and stabilizers’ muscles can only deliver. While their physiques are impressive, their arms are like iron bars supported by wet noodles or a strong wall anchored in the mud. Without the stability and support of a strong core, all that muscle is really only for show.
Consider for a moment the hidden stabilizer muscles used to ride a skateboard. These can only be trained and conditioned in a state where the rider feels he is about to slip and fall. It’s that “whoop, whoop” feeling we get when we’re pushing our skill level to the max that marks the training sweet spot for this activity. Without fully developed stabilizer muscles, the rider cannot ride. To go further and say, carry something while skateboarding. It will improve your core strength even more.
Improving your Core Muscles
These are the muscles of the back, stomach, and sides. Training these muscles is the foundation of any well-developed strength training regimen. Without them, powerful arms and legs are like trees with shallow roots. Working with a skilled personal trainer in Vancouvers West End BC, you can develop these key muscles for excellent core strength to enhance your fitness, stability, and athletic performance. They are:
Multifidus: These are the muscles that run along either side of the spine, support the back, and contribute to lifting strength.
Erector spinae: Also known as the rotatores spinae, these are a cluster made of 22 small muscles of the thoracic region.
Transverse abdominis: These muscles wrap around the side and the front of your trunk to stabilize the pelvis.
Rectus abdominis: These muscles are activated when you bend forward in the classic sit-up movement. They are the primary abdominals. These are the muscles that form the ever-coveted “six-pack.”
Obliques: There are external and internal obliques. These muscles allow you to rotate and bend your trunk.
10 All-Fitness-Level Exercises to Improve Core Strength
The following moves are favorites of many personal trainers and other fitness professionals. They are easy to teach, easy to learn, and can be done just about anywhere. These are great moves to do at the start of a workout to warm up and get your blood moving. Best of all, you can add weight or mount specialized gym equipment to bring your abdominal workout to the next level any time you are ready.
Laying on your back, cradling your head in your hands, and knees pointed skyward, lift your pelvis toward the ceiling. This trains your glutes, thighs, and core all at the same time. It’s a simple move you can even do in bed, should you feel the need.
The classic crunch is designed to give you the benefit of sit-ups without causing discomfort to the tail bone. Laying on your back, place your hands on your upper chest with your knees pointed at the ceiling and feet a few inches apart. Raise your head and shoulders, and try to touch your elbows to your knees. With the proper variations, this can be a complete abdominal workout all by itself.
Place your hands on the floor with your toes and balls of your feet supporting you. Hold your body straight. Then dip your knees, straighten them and repeat. This works the glutes and core as well as the shoulders, back, and arms.
The Supine Toe-Tap
On your back, with your hands at your sides, hold your legs as if you were sitting in a chair. Then lower one leg to the floor, return it to the seated position, and repeat. This works out the hip flexors and abdomen for better stability.
The Bird Dog
Standing on your hands and knees, lift one leg and the opposite arm and then lift the other leg and opposite arm. This works your glutes, back muscles, the upper dorsal shoulder, as well as a large number of in-between stabilizers.
The Mountain Climber
On your hands and feet again, lift your knee as far forward as it will go and repeat with the other, switching back and forth. This is a great way to train strength and endurance with cardiovascular benefits as well. Take care not to overexert yourself, as this is bordering on an advanced move.
The Horse-Stance Crunch
Standing with your feet apart as if you were riding a horse, place your hands behind your head and point your elbows to the sides. Now, bend your torso side to side as if you were going to touch your elbows to your knees. This strengthens the quadriceps, glutes, and the often neglected muscles of the lower sides. Repeat as desired.
The Side Plank
Form a plank as in the first Plank exercise, but this time balance on your side with the side of your foot and your forearm. Now, rotate the arm that is in the air under yourself and touch the opposite side of your ribcage, straightening the arm toward the ceiling with each repetition. When done on both sides, this strengthens the inner thigh muscles, the lateral core muscles, and the upper back and shoulder.
The Advanced Bird Dog
Perform this exercise just like the bird dog, but use the same leg and opposite arm repeatedly while not bringing them to rest on the floor until the set is done. Work the right arm and left leg for 5 to 10 repetitions, not touching the ground with them. Then do the same with the other leg and arm.
The Bike Crunch
Starting on your back, bend your knees and place the soles of your feet on the floor. Tighten your abdomen and move your shoulders back and down. Then lift your shoulder and touch your elbow to the opposite knee. Repeat with the opposite side.
Follow these exercises in order, and you will see your core strength and stability improve and grow with each passing day. To refine these moves at the higher levels, or to get started smoothly, get in touch with our professional fitness team in Vancouvers West End BC. We’ll help you build a habit that will build strength, stability, and good health.
Contact us now to get a personal trainer that is the right fit for you and not just your New Years’ goals but your Total fitness goals.