Core Strength Development for Newbies

Having weak abdominal muscles can be a cause for many problems with your body. Your core can get weak as a result of a variety of reasons including lack of use, pregnancy,  and exercising with poor form. If you want to strengthen your core, know that is is important to work your way up slowly and methodically. Do not just go off by doing as many sit ups and crunches as you can do in the beginning as these exercises are not sufficient in and of themselves. What you need to concentrate on instead is a multitude of exercises that work your entire core, not just your abdominal muscles. It is important to keep the agonist and antagonist muscles balanced: ab strengthening exercises should ideally be accompanied by exercises that work on strengthening the lower back muscles.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

It is not rocket science to figure out that weak core muscles can affect more than your appearance being as they also impact your stability and balance. Weak core muscles leave you more prone to back pain or injury, and can have a deleterious effect on your capability to get a good night’s sleep. If you have allowed your core to become weak while also allowing your belly to bulge out past your belt, you have set yourself up for a painfully miserable existence.

Our bodies are wonderful creations that too many seem to not appreciate. We are made of a diverse set of muscles, tendons, bones and joints all interconnected to create an efficient machine. The body’s core, which includes the abdominal muscles, chest, lower back, hips and pelvis, is the center for most of our movements. Therefore, the effectiveness of nearly every muscle group in our body traces back to the core. When our core muscles are not as strong as they need to be, the body gets weak and begins to break down. As a result of allowing our core to become weak,  our entire being suffers because the other areas are not getting the much needed support they need. When other areas of your body try to compensate for weakness and imbalances, the result will always end in pain for you.

When your core is weak, your posture will suffer. Your shoulders will begin to slump and you will eventually lack the ability to stand or sit up straight. The longer you allow this to continue, the more miserable your life will become.

A weak core is going to result in you having back pain too. Back pain can be a direct result of a lack of strength in the opposing abdominal muscles. Because those muscles aren’t providing as much support as they should, the back overworks itself when it comes to lifting, running and other exercise.

When you have difficulties in picking up heavy objects, your core is likely at fault. Those midsection muscles fuel the strength of your limbs. pain that comes from strenuous activity can often be traced back to the core. Problems with core strength can even make you experience shortness of breath. However, you do have the power within you to change all of this, if only you make the personal choice to commit to doing so.

Core Strengthening for the Newbie and the Overweight:

To build abdominal strength, perform two to three sets of 10 repetitions of each exercise. This should be done two to three times per week. None of the exercises should cause pain. Consult a doctor with any questions or concerns prior to beginning an exercise regimen, particularly if you have other health conditions which affect your ability to workout.

Pelvic Tilt/Glute Bridge

Pelvic Tilt

Glute Bridge

The pelvic tilt can be progressed into a glute bridge once you master the technique.

HOW TO DO IT: Begin this exercise by lying on your back with your knees bent. Rock your pelvis backward and flatten your back against the ground by tightening your abdominal muscles. You can advance this by doing a glute bridge, squeezing your buttocks together and lifting your hips up off the ground.

Do not hold your breath while performing and keep your neck and shoulders relaxed. Hold this position for five to 10 seconds and then release the tilt.

Standing Side Bend

Use small dumbbells or household items, such as canned food or water bottles, to add weight to this exercise.

HOW TO DO IT: Stand with your arms hanging at your side and with a weight in each hand. Slowly slide one hand down the side of your leg until it reaches your knee. Do not allow your body to rotate as you side bend.

Your shoulders and chest should remain facing forward at all times. Slowly slide the arm back up the leg until you are standing erect again. After completing a full set, repeat on the other side.

 Quadruped Lift

Place a folded towel under your knees if you find the quadruped position uncomfortable.

HOW TO DO IT: Begin the quadruped lift on your hands and knees. Engage your abdominal muscles and flatten your low back like a tabletop.

Without tilting the low back or pelvis, reach one arm out in front of you and hold it in the air for five to 10 seconds while simultaneously raising the opposite leg out straight. Return to the original position and repeat the exercise by lifting your other arm in the air one at a time.

Modified Side Plank

Perform this exercise with your legs straight once the modified version becomes too easy.

HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your side with your knees bent and your legs stacked on top of each other. Rest your forearm on the ground and bring your elbow directly under your shoulder. Slowly lift your hips in the air without tensing your neck or shoulder.

Hold for five to 10 seconds and then lower your hips to the ground. After completing a set, repeat the exercise on the other side.

Chair Crunch

HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your back on the floor with your legs resting on a chair so that your hips and knees are bent at 90-degree angles. Cross your arms over your chest, or place your hands behind your head and slowly lift your head and upper body off the ground.

When the bottom of your shoulder blades clears the floor, hold this position for 1 to 2 seconds and then slowly return to the starting position.

Comments and questions are most welcome!

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