Your core muscles play a major role in your everyday activities; from getting out of bed in the morning, to walking down the street, to bending over to pick up your child. Having a strong core benefits athletes, desk workers, those that work primarily on their feet, older adults, pretty much everyone! The benefits to having a strong core include: a stabilized back, improved balance and posture, enhanced posture, and improved exercise form.
Before getting into each one of these exercises, let’s first take a second to talk about what the core muscles are and why core strengthening is so important. In general, “core muscles” refers to the muscles that surround the lower part of your torso, as seen in the picture below, as well as your glutes (butt muscles) and lower back muscles. These muscles work together to support your spine and legs during dynamic movements and they play an important role for preventing injuries.
Let’s take a look at the top 5 Core exercises you should include in your workouts.
- Knee Tuck Crunches
To perform knee tuck crunches, you will start by sitting down, your chest and thighs will be at about a 45 degree angle so that they roughly form a “V” shape, similar to the picture shown above. From there, straighten out your legs while you lower your torso down at the same time, then come back up. This is a great exercise for targeting your abs and obliques (these are the core muscles that are on either side of your abs). It also forces you to control the movement of your legs while they extend out
2. Side planks with hip abduction
To perform this exercise, you want to keep your body in a straight line while putting your weight through your elbow and foot. Then, hold that position while you lift the top leg up and down, making sure to keep both legs straight the whole time. If putting your weight through your foot is too difficult at first, you can try instead putting it through your knee. This exercise does an excellent job of strengthening your core and hips, both of which play a vital role in preventing leg injuries at the hip, knee, and ankle.
3. Mountain Climbers
Mountain climbers are one of the most powerful core exercises that you can do. Not only does it work your core muscles, it also works many of the same muscles in your legs that you use when running, so it’s a great way to prepare for you for other activities. To perform this exercise, you want to start in a pushup position with both of your arms locked out straight. Then, you alternate your legs in a running motion, driving the knee up towards your chest and then back down. See if you can do it for a minute without stopping!
Bridges are another great exercise that focus more on the core muscles on the backside of your body (glutes and low back muscles). To perform this exercise, start by lying down flat on your back with your knees bent and feet on the ground. Engage your core and lift your butt off the ground and then back down in a slow and controlled manner. For those of you who want to make things a little more difficult, try pushing up and down with only one leg!
5. Bird dog
The last core exercise to get your core in shape is called bird dog, and it’s performed by first starting on your hands and knees, then sticking your opposite arm/leg out straight in front and behind you, as you can see in the picture. If you want to make things more advanced you can try this exercise with your feet on the ground instead of your knees.
So, there you have it! Those are the top 5 core exercises that you can perform at home without any extra equipment to get your core in shape. Get started today!