When you hear the term “core strength” most of us think about abs, and the 6-packs they wish they had! The there are 2 important truths here..
1. Everyone has a “6-pack” – they are made up of the Rectus Abdominus – if you didn’t have them you would not be able to stand or move around the way you do! For most of us these muscles are just hiding beneath layers of fat on the abdominal area!
2. Core strength doesn’t just mean your abs, it also refers to muscles in your back and pelvis that help keep your body stable and strong in every movement you make. It is important to get all these muscles working together to stabilise your body, hold correct posture move well in both exercise and everyday movement.
If you really want to build and strengthen your core the trick is to focus more on RESISTING MOVEMENT rather than creating movement with your core.
🔸What does Resisting Movement mean?
Putting your body into positions where your core has to work to resist gravity or a weight is far more beneficial than doing your standard crunches or sit ups!
Here are a few resisting-movement core exercises we like to do with our members to get their core muscles effectively working together and ensure they have as much stability functional strength as possible when they are exercising and moving every day!
The V-SIT HOLD
Today we start with the V-Sit Hold (shown in image). This exercise requires you keep the core muscles engaged to resist gravity and falling to the floor.
1. Start in a seated position on the floor, with your knees bent and feet/heels on the floor – ensure your back is straight with shoulders back (no hunching)
2. Lean back so your whole back moves closer to the ground (so your chest moves away from your knees) and hold in a position where your core is engaged and you can hold your back in a straight position without falling.
3. You can make it more difficult by moving your back closer or to the floor, and lifting your feet off the ground. As you get stronger you can also lift your feet off the floor.
LEG RAISE HOLD (shown by those in the left row):
1. Start with your hands tucked under your butt or lower back.
2. Lift your legs up so your toes point to the sky.
3. Lower your legs toward the floor and pull your core muscles and glutes in tight. Lower to a point where you feel your core working and hold there with your legs straight.
DISH HOLD (shown by those on the right):
1. Start with your hands and legs up so your fingers and toes point to the sky.
2. Lift your shoulders and head up off the floor to push your lower back into the floor.
3. Lower your arms and legs toward the floor to a point where you feel your core and can keep your back pushed into the floor. Hold at that point and focus on tensing your core, glutes, thighs – everything!
The Dish Hold is more difficult than the Leg Raise Hold, so make sure you master the first before progressing to the second!
** It’s really important to keep your lower back pushed into the ground for both of these exercises – if your lower back is feeling strained you are not activating your core to the fullest extent, so raise your legs (and hands in the dish hold) a little higher to make the exercise easier and take the strain off your back.
SIDE PLANK: A lot of core exercises involve you laying on your back or being in a prone position (stomach facing the floor, like a plank). It’s important to also build your core coordination and strength by focusing through the sides of your core. Try this resisting movement exercise…
1. Lay on your side with your elbow on the floor directly under your shoulder and legs extended so your body is in a straight line.
2. Lift your hips up from the floor to a point where your body and legs are creating a straight line from your shoulders to your feet. Hold in this position.
3. Ensure the following:
– you are squeezing your glutes and pulling your core muscles in toward your spine.
– you keep your top shoulder back so it is stacking over the top of the elbow on the floor.. think of keeping your chest out and squeezing your shoulder blades together.
– look straight ahead to keep your neck in line with your spine.
** You can do this on your knees if it’s a little too hard for you to maintain good technique on your toes.
Core strength is vital for every move we make – our abs are not just there for aesthetic puposes, they need to function well for us to get the most out of every exercise we do. Work these resisting movement exercises into your program to accelerate your core control!