Healthy You: Key Steps Required For A Strong Core

Activating your core muscles is a lot more than situps, which by the way, many people do improperly. Your core muscles help connect your upper and lower body and are far more than merely for show as 6-pack abs.

And by the way, let’s get two things clear: everyone, even people 50 lbs overweight have six-pack abs, they are just hidden under a lot of excess fat. And number two, as few as 1 out of every 25,000 have visible six-pack abs, so getting a strong core is not about looking good.

#1 Build up your lower back muscles

Over 65 Americans report a recent episode of back pain and some 16 million Americans have had to limit their daily activities as a result.

Of all the exercises you can do to enhance your core, lower back exercises should be at the top of your list. The reason is clear. Virtually everything you do, from standing or walking, to bending over or picking something up involves your back muscles.

Bridges, knee to chest stretches, pelvic tilts, and perhaps Superman stretches (where you lift your arms and legs together as if you were flying like Superman) can make a big difference in your core strength and keep you active and pain-free

 #2. Stretch first before doing most core exercises

When it comes to your core, whether it’s your lower back, your hips, your abdominals, or those abdominals besides your six-pack muscles, doing a lot of stretching is essential.

Why so? Precisely because it’s so easy to strain one of your core muscles, and once you do, you can forget about your whole workout routine for several weeks.

Before attempting to do any core activities, make sure the body is loose and limber by using slow warm-up stretches such as Yoga. Stretching is essential to retain flexibility, and also to prepare the body to exercise. This is never more important than core exercises.

 #3. Exercise bands may be a key component

Tired of gimmicky core exercises such as the ab roller or an ab wheel? Consider exercise bands. Exercise bands are so great for the core because they slowly contract against the body in a steady, gentle fashion.

Because the bands only resist as far as you stretch them, only extremely rarely will you injure yourself or go “too far” like most exercise routines.

Here is a great 2-step exercise band exercise for your core offered by a physical therapist on Youtube  Resistance band exercises for core strength  

 #4. Easy does it

Some people think that if a little exercise is good, a whole lot is better. While we won’t get into the debate about those who engage in a frequent exercise routine of 5 times a week such as Crossfit, we will say that when it comes to your core, you need to ease into it.

First, don’t do multiple sets of your core (especially as a beginner) and give your body plenty of time to rest.

That means that you should avoid overexercising your core and limit your exercises to two or three sessions max.

In between, get plenty of rest. First of all, according to the CDC, one out of every 3 Americans do not get enough sleep, and resting is an important part of bodybuilding.

At the same time give your body a healthy diet, enough water, and you may want to supplement slightly, particularly with l carnitine. L carnitine benefits, primarily in eliminating lactic acid for easier workouts and less soreness make it something worthwhile to consider.

 #5. Strict form to avoid injury

The major problem with many of the core exeercise4s is that it is easy to cheat. An example is a proverbial sit-up. There are half a dozen ways to do sit-ups improperly, causing at the least, a poor return on investment for the amount of effort you give in, and at the most, avoiding injury to your neck, upper and lower back.

Since, in exercise particularly, a photo (or in this case a video is worth a thousand words if you want to incorporate sit-ups for your core, try reviewing this YouTube video first:  How To Do Sit-Ups Correctly For Beginners  

In fact, the core form is the number one reason to hire a professional trainer. They will ensure you do your core routine safely and effectively.

 #6. Keep your eye on the prize

Finally, we can’t emphasize enough that core training has little or nothing to do with being weight proportionate. There is no such thing as spot training. If you are overweight and want to lose weight in your stomach, doing sit-ups or crunches will not do that for you.

It’s around 90 per cent or more of your diet. That’s the bad news. No spot training exists. The good news, core training is one of the most essential tools to keep your overall body fit and healthy.

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