Who doesn’t want a six-pack?
Chiseled abs are the holy grail of fitness. Everybody wants to look good when their midsection is showing, so you’ll always see people working their core at the gym.
Working your core is much more important than just looking good though. It is vital for your overall health, strength, and ability. Here’s why:
Why should you train your core?
There is a good reason to train your core. Your core is not just your abs. It’s a group of muscles responsible for keeping your body stable at all times. Anytime you move, the muscles in your core are doing some kind of work.
Core training, combined with a nutritious diet, will lead to muscular definition. But more importantly, it will help to prevent injury when you’re performing heavy compound movements, like bench presses and squats.
Training your core will also help you increase your mobility in your day-to-day life. It may help make you more flexible, make your posture better, reduce back pain, and make your life easier in general.
How do you train your core?
When you perform them correctly, compound movements (squat, bench press, deadlift, etc.) will strengthen your core. When you perform these movements, make sure you are using the correct form at all times.
Isolating your core is also important. The muscles in your core recover more quickly than other muscles, such as the ones in your legs. This means you can train them more during the week. For beginners, Harvard recommends adding core work into your workout routine 2-3 times per week.
Great core exercises:
You can isolate your core to train it in a variety of ways. There is an infinite amount of core workouts online. How do you know which ones are good?
Basically, if you’re putting your core under tension over time, you’ll be training it. The best movements are the ones that work multiple muscles at the same time.
Planks: Planks are one of the most common core exercises you will see at the gym, and for good reason. They work your entire core when done correctly. They also work your shoulders and some back muscles.
To perform a plank, place your elbows on the floor directly beneath your shoulders. Extend your legs behind you. Squeeze your glutes and abs to bring your body off the floor. Maintain a straight line throughout your entire body. Hold this position for as long as possible.
Mountain Climbers: These, like planks, will work your entire core. They will also challenge your conditioning and arm and shoulder strength.
Start in a high plank position (hands flat on the ground directly under your shoulders instead of elbows). Quickly bring your right leg up towards your chest then back to the starting position. Repeat on the left side and continue alternating for as many reps as you can.
Crunches: The classic core conditioning movement. Crunches are great for specifically targeting your abdominals.
Start by laying on the ground. With your knees up, plant your feet firmly into the ground. Using only your abs, lift your upper back off of the ground. Pause for a second, then lower back down slowly. Repeat for as many reps as necessary.
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