We get to hear it way too often how a strong core redefines the posture, the health and the well-being of a person. And yet when people get to working out, the men want to address their biceps and the women their tummies.
The appeal of 6-pack abs has suddenly gone notches higher due to the film fraternity and media hype about it. But that is not an accomplishment of doing a 100 crunches. Your core refers to the traverse abdominis, erector spinae, obliques and lower lats, that is the entire mid-section of your body. To work on the core one has to include all the area in the front, back and sides. The importance of a strong core is the stability it provides rest of the body.
A strong core elongates the spine, makes you look taller as the muscles around the spine and lower back are able to give you enough control to hold a straight posture. When the core is well-defined it does not allow laxity and holds your internal organs in position, so they work to optimum capacity as chances of indigestion and gas are minimized. As one grows older and the bone density reduces with natural wear and tear, it is a strong midsection that will prevent fractures and dislocation incase of a fall. When the core is strong the balance and stability of the entire body is maintained in any movement.
So let me put forth 5 simple exercises that we can put into our schedule to gradually build the core strength we all require.
- THE PLANK: Everyone knows about this one. Key points are to make sure the navel is pulled tight, back is straight and hands are just under the shoulders
- HIPRAISES: This targets the lower back. You have to hold your stomach tight and push it upward, raising your hips from the ground. Key points are, Do NOT raise your shoulders off the floor and breathe out as you raise your hips.
- RUSSIAN TWIST: This is a total concentrate on your midsection, that targets your obliques. Key points are to twist keeping your shoulder alignment straight to maximize the burn and do not rotate your hip.
- BIRDDOG: It makes you focus on your stability as body weight has to centralize when you balance on a single hand n single leg. Key point is to hold your stomach muscles tight.
- DEAD BUGS: It helps you isolate movement of your hip and shoulders while keeping your spine rested. Key point is to press your lower back to the floor, thereby engaging your abdominal muscles.
I would highly recommend these 5 as the most important for your core even above the basic crunches. As you progress you can incorporate variations of the same to challenge your intensity.