Core workouts are incredibly important. After all, almost every movement you make involves your body’s core to some degree or another. When doing any power moves, running, agility drills, or sports, most of your body’s power flows through your core.
What is the core? Your core is the muscle that connects your upper and lower body. The muscles that comprise the core include the abdominals, obliques and muscles of the lower back. When doing many athletic moves, much of the power is actually generated in the hips and legs, even movements traditionally thought of as using mainly the upper body. This includes throwing, hitting, and swinging movements.
A problem experienced by millions of people is power back pain. A strong core can help support the lower back, alleviating the discomfort felt by so many people with bad backs. A strong core can also help prevent problems from developing in that region.
Without a strong core you’re losing much of the power that can be transferred from the lower body to the upper body, and inviting injury in the process. In addition, a strong, well developed core is essential for that healthy, “beach body” look. If you want a six pack that’s not made in St. Louis, Atlanta, or Golden, you need a solid core, and here is a workout to get it.
Core workouts are known for being brutal, and with good reason. Your body needs a pretty intense workout to really develop those muscles, and core workouts traditionally consist of much higher reps that most other muscle groups, leading to all manner of pain. In addition, core muscles can be worked more often than your other muscle groups, so instead of hitting them once every 4 – 7 days, you can work them every other day. That is a recipe for agony, plain and simple.
You can participate in many sports to help build your core. Soccer, running, swimming, and martial arts all develop strong core muscles. It is much more fun to develop your core that way than it is to go through a few minutes of intense pain to develop those mid section muscles. An added bonus is that these sports help peel the fat from your newly developed core so that people can admire it.
The fact is however, that you’ll want to have a core routine to really develop those muscles. To get the strength and definition that maximizes your appearance and athletic performance, actually doing a core workout is the best way to quickly get the strength and definition you’re looking for. Throwing in a few sports is icing on the cake.
Here is a core workout that will have your muscles back in shape faster than you thought possible –
Crunches – Tis an old standby, but they work great. A few sets of crunches really work well for developing the upper abdominal muscles, that are essential to a powerful core. Do sets of 20 – 25, and when you can do three sets of 25, start adding weight. Hold a dumbbell or weight plate at the base of your neck when you do your crunches. At first it doesn’t take much weight to really blast your abs.
Make sure you curl up your upper abs, feeling the tension in your abdominal muscles actually pulling your upper body. Don’t jerk your body upwards like you do when doing situps. A variation of the crunch is to do them on a decline bench. That will increase the load on the upper abdominal muscles and ramp up the intensity. It also changes a little bit exactly which section of your abs feel the most stress from crunches. You can throw in a few sets of decline crunches instead of regular crunches every few weeks to keep your progress from stagnating.
Hanging Knee Lifts – Knee lifts are fantastic for hitting those lower abs that give you that “V” at the bottom of your abs. They also develop your hip flexors at the sides. One great thing about them is that you can also throw in some variation to hit your obliques. Twist your legs as you bring them up. That will hit those obliques and really help increase your torso’s rotating power. Well developed obliques, should you have lost enough fat to see them, really help give your stomach that well defined look.
Twisting Crunches – These work really well, but you have to concentrate on feeling the oblique muscle contract as you twist and raise your torso.
Fitness Ball Hypertensions – The core also includes that lower back, and these will hit the lower back muscles until you beg for mercy. Using a fitness ball instead of a bench helps involve stabilizing muscles and cushion your lower back at the same time. You want to keep your hands clasped behind your head while you do these. You can add wrist weights or hold dumbbells to up the intensity a bit. As with the other movements, concentrate on really feeling the lower back muscles contract and using them to raise your torso. You will feel them.
If you just incorporate these 4 exercise into your core workout, you’ll develop the strong core that can help prevent injury, make you look great this summer, and help you on the field as well.