Strengthen your core
There are numerous reasons why it’s good to strengthen your core, and endless exercises you can perform at all levels of fitness to do this. We’ve discussed some of the key reasons in more detail below, and also highlighted the most popular and effective exercises you can try.
Reason 1 – You’re a fitness newbie
If you’re just starting out on your fitness journey or are returning to exercise after a break, your number one area to strengthen is your core. Why is this? Your core affects everything, it supports your spine and will play a major part therefore in your technique and alignment when performing most exercises. If you advance too quickly in movements and don’t have the core strength to support you, you will be at a higher risk of injury.
Your primary thought before you start any exercise should be “is my core engaged?”. If you don’t have strength in your core muscles, you won’t be able to engage them effectively. Core engagement involves tensing your stomach muscles, but not so much that you can’t breathe or stand up straight. It’s a tensing or bracing feeling that makes you feel strong and sturdy.
Top exercises: Start your core training out with a simple “deadbug”, and a “plank” on your knees. You can develop these 2 exercises through phases as you get stronger, with countless variations to keep your interest levels up and ensure you are continually challenged.
Reason 2 – You’re a back pain sufferer
Research conducted by Arthritis Research UK estimates that 9 million people in England experience back pain. It is a common misconception that rest is the best cure for back pain. However, depending on the reasons behind your back pain, exercise, and in particular, exercise that strengthens your core muscles, can offer a great amount of relief. We always advise to check with your GP or qualified medical practitioner before starting exercise for back pain to rule out anything serious that needs alternative treatment.
Top exercises: Generally speaking, core exercises performed in a controlled manner are best for you when you have back pain. Pilates-based movements are excellent. These exercises will develop your deeper core muscles, providing excellent stabilisation for your spine. Regular practice will result in you improving your posture, increasing your spine mobility and finally, relieving tension held in your back muscles.
Reason 3 – You’re an advanced fitaholic
You are never too advanced not to keep core exercises as a staple part of your fitness routine. Continuing to strengthen your core will help you run faster, lift heavier, have better balance, and help keep your good form and technique. It can be easy to keep upping the challenges we impose on other areas of our body, whilst forgetting that we need to continue to up our core strength to support this work. Yes, your core will be used and worked in many of the other movements you will be practicing, but we cannot recommend enough a good core focus finisher exercise at the end of your workout.
Top exercises: You can get as fancy and creative as you like here. For example, try your bicycle crunches and deadbugs with resistance bands or weights. Get going with some plank variations to include hip twists, downward dogs and 2-limbs balances. Slow down your mountain climbers, challenge your side planks with spine rotations, and really push your limits with some rollouts. The list is endless, so have fun and enjoy the burn!
Written by Becky Barrett