Strengthen Your Core Muscles with 10 Effective Exercises.

by | Mar 7, 2024 | Swimming and Calisthenics, Gymnastic, Swimming | 0 comments

Do you know what core muscles are? Nowadays, everyone talks about developing and strengthening core muscles. You must have heard “engage your core,” but most people usually interchange core muscles with the abs. Some say core muscles are only six packs. But that’s not true. Core muscles are much more than that.

This blog will explain everything about core muscles and answer all your queries. So, let’s first understand what core muscles are.

What are Core Muscles?

The core muscles, the central region of the body, can be characterized as solid and sturdy structures composed of various muscle groups. You’ve got the abdominals in the front, while at the back, you have the paraspinal and gluteal. Acting as a roof to this muscular box is the diaphragm, while at the bottom, you have the pelvic floor and hip girdle musculature.

This box has 29 pairs of muscles that help stabilize the spine, pelvis, and kinetic chain during functional movements. If these muscles were not present, the spine would be at risk of losing its mechanical stability, as it would be unable to handle compressive forces that are below the weight of the upper body.

In most simple words, the core muscles form an extensive network that includes everything between the chest and the thighs.

This system consists of various components, such as muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints, that work together perfectly to deliver the necessary burst of power required for achieving optimal performance.

Woman exercising for core muscles

Difference Between your Core and Abs:

As discussed earlier, most people confuse core muscles and abs. They assume the core to be the six packs. But that’s not true.

Abs are your abdominal muscles or your six-packs. The abs are only a tiny part of the core. The only purpose of your abs is to help bend your torso forward. Working on your six-pack will not help your core in the long run.

Meanwhile, the core muscles include your pelvis, hips, lower back, and abs. The core muscles have a multifaceted role; they stabilize the spine, maintain an upright posture, and facilitate forward bending, backward arching, and twisting motions from side to side.

Why is a Strong Core so Important?

Your core makes the body’s center, connecting the upper and lower body. So, it has multiple functions. A solid and stable core is crucial for maintaining balance, stabilization, mobility, breathing, bladder, and bowel control. So you need to build up your core muscles. 

Mobility and Flexibility:

Your core is involved in every movement you make. From walking to running and exercising, your core is involved even if you bend to pick something from the floor. So, a strong core is crucial for your mobility and flexibility.

If you want to move around fresh and bend pain-free, you must work on your core to strengthen it.

A study done in 2019 revealed that after an 8-week core training program, the athletes improved their static balance, endurance, and running efficiency.

Maintaining Balance and Posture with Strong Core Muscles:

Since the study mentioned above proved that the athletes improved their balance when they adopted an 8-week core training program, many other studies also supported the idea that a strong core helps maintain balance and improves posture.

A study done in 2021 also concluded that core strength training to elevate core stability improves functional mobility and balance in the geriatric population.

When you perform core exercises to improve your balance and posture, you open yourself up to a myriad of advantages, including reducing back pain and tension headaches, increasing lung capacity, and improving circulation and digestion.

Reduce Pain:

Lower back pain is the leading cause of disability in the UK. According to Arthritis Research UK, It is estimated that around 1 in every six individuals in England suffer from back pain, including people of all ages and all causes of back pain.

But the good news is you may avoid back pain if you start exercising for a strong core.

Breathing and Strong Core:

As you know, your diaphragm is part of your core. The diaphragm is an inverted “U” shaped muscular sheet that lines your lower ribs.

It flattens when you inhale, making room for the lungs to expand. Conversely, when the diaphragm relaxes, it comes back to its original inverted “U” shape, contracting the lungs, and due to lung contraction, all the air in the lungs is expelled.

Additionally, when faced with lifting a heavy object, your diaphragm can engage in isometric contraction to support breath-holding. The purpose of this action is to support your trunk, which prevents injury and maintains stability.

Bowel and Bladder Control:

The pelvic floor muscles, a part of the core, help control your bowel and bladder. It allows you to urinate, defecate, or hold it till you reach the bathroom.

If these muscles are not strong, it can lead to stress incontinence. However, this condition can be avoided if you perform workouts for a strong core.

In addition to this, your diaphragm and pelvic muscles work together with the rest of the core muscles to maintain spinal stability by elevating abdominal pressure at the spine.

Core Muscle exercises

Why is exercise crucial in developing core muscles:

Core strength exercises develop strength and improve functional speed.

If your core muscles are strong, you may move faster and easier, maintain balance, and lift heavy loads.

Training the core to strengthen is crucial for everyone, especially people associated with sports and fitness. The degree of core muscular fitness determines the safety and effectiveness of fitness training and sports, especially for weightlifting, martial arts, and team sports.

A core is a collection of so many muscles. You may be able to strengthen your core if you train them slowly and steadily over time. Secondly, you can’t work on all the muscles simultaneously. Every set of muscles has different exercises and different training techniques.

The abdominal muscles, such as the obliques and rectus abdominis, are present in the same region and are the first to start training. Then, the muscles hidden beneath these muscles, the pelvic floor, multifidus, and transverse abdominals, must be worked to protect the spine and surrounding muscle structure.

And at the end, you will be ready to work out your abs. So, exercise takes it step by step to strengthen the core muscles.

Core fitness Principles:

It would be best to have a well-rounded workout regimen incorporating activities for all muscle groups to develop your core. Concentrating on the growth of specific areas is not advisable as this might cause a significant imbalance in muscle development.

A muscle subjected to more strain than the others may visibly shorten, disrupting the body’s normal function. Muscle shortening can be avoided by stretching. Stretching may be utilized as an independent exercise or a component of an ongoing training regimen.

When chronic illnesses and past injuries are present and might worsen after going to the gym or exercising, constant doctor or coach monitoring is mandatory. So, it is recommended to exercise in the presence of a coach because a slight change in the training program solves most injury problems.

Developing Core Muscles through Calisthenics:

Calisthenics is the type of workout that leaves you with no excuses for not exercising because it requires no gym, fancy equipment, or high-end fitness apparatus. You can do These strength training exercises from the comfort of your home.

Now, let’s discuss some basic abdominal stability calisthenics exercises you can easily do. Although they’re not all-inclusive, they can aid in learning how to use your core muscles.

The Abdominal Draw:

  • Bend your knees and lie on your back. (This can also be done with your back to the chair.) Take a deep breath.

 

  • Imagine pulling your belly button to your spine as you exhale to pull your stomach in. You may feel the muscles surrounding your sides and belly tighten, but you should still be able to breathe. Make sure your back is not arched or pressed against the floor. Your back should not move.

 

  • Hold for a few seconds. Relax and then repeat.

The Plank:

  • Begin the exercise by assuming a pushup position, supporting your body weight on your hands and toes. In case you find this too challenging, you have the option to lower yourself onto your knees.

 

  • Maintain alignment between your buttocks and torso by drawing your abdomen towards your spine. Your abdominal muscles need to be fully engaged.

 

  • Hold the position for a few seconds.

 

You should be aware that this workout causes a lot of strain on your spine. It’s a good idea to avoid this workout or alter it to a wall plank or on your knees if you have back problems. If the problem persists, talk to your coach or personal trainer.

The Side Plank:

  • Place one foot on top of the other while lying on your side with your elbow resting on the ground. You’ll have your upper body supported. For extra balance, maintain your hand on the ground or extend your top arm upward.

 

  • Raise your hips and extend your legs such that your forearm and the side of your foot support your weight. If you find this too tricky, draw a straight line from your knees to your head while remaining knees on the floor.

 

  • Make sure your elbows, hips, and feet are all positioned correctly. Maintain your shoulder over your elbow as well. The obliques on your posterior should be tight.

 

  • Maintain this posture for 20 to 60 seconds.

The Bird Dog:

  • As though you were a table, start on your hands and knees. Maintain a neutral posture for your spine.

 

  • Stretch out one arm so that it is parallel to your head and body in front of you. 

 

  • Stretch the other leg out behind you so that it is parallel to your arm and body. Ensure that your hips remain oriented downward towards the floor instead of outward towards the sides. Your back and abdominal muscles need to be tense. 

 

  • After holding for five seconds, switch to the other arm and leg.

The Bridge:

  • Get into a comfortable position by lying on your back and bending your knees while keeping your feet at a distance equal to the width of your hips.

 

  • Squeeze your buttocks and raise them off the ground while maintaining your pelvis and trunk together.

 

  • Hold for a few seconds.

Developing a Strong Core in the Pool:

Swimming is the best aerobic exercise. It is because your body’s inactive portions are still helping to sustain you against the water’s resistance.
Another distinctive feature of pool exercises is their solid resistance without adverse effects.

While it is possible to lose your balance when lifting free weights using exercise equipment, falling into a swimming pool is uncommon. It is a fantastic chance to gain strength at a lower risk.

Kickboard kicks:

  • Stretching your arms, place a kickboard before you and kick your feet.

 

  • Imagine drawing your belly button away from the pool’s bottom and towards the back as you swim.

 

  • Continue until you reach the pool’s end or get too tired to do so safely.

Pikes:

 

  • Raise your knees to your chest while standing in water up to your neck.

 

  • Bend backward and bring both legs forward into a pike or jackknife position. With your bottom pointed towards the pool’s floor, your body should form a “V.”

 

  • Maintaining this posture can help you develop more muscular abs.

 

  • Using your arms to propel yourself backward in circles, stay afloat. Your triceps will tone up as a result.

 

  • Hold a little while, take a break, and repeat ten times.

Flutter Kicks:

  • Hold onto the pool edge or use a floating object, such as a pool noodle, to keep your upper body afloat when in a pool.

 

  • Stretch your legsout towards the pool’s bottom.

 

  • To keep yourself afloat, quickly scissor-kick your feet front to back. As you kick, point your toes and maintain a straight leg posture.

 

  • Continue doing this movement as long as it is safe and comfortable.

Dolphin Kick:

 

  • Extend your arms before you with your hands clasped together or gripping a kickboard.

 

  • To proceed, tighten the muscles in your core and move your body in a wave-like pattern. Press your hips down while your upper body rises, and then press your chest down while maintaining your hips up. It can take some time to get used to.

 

  • Continue making this motion until you have covered the entire pool length or get too tired to perform the exercise safely.

Swimming with an ankle buoy or band:

 

  • Squeeze a pull buoy between your ankles and thighs. As a result, your hips and legs will float to the top of the water. An even more difficult exercise is to encircle your ankles with a strap.

 

  • Take up freestyle swimming. It means performing the crawl stroke, which involves alternating the forward circular motion of your arms behind and above your head. Let the buoy keep your legs floating by keeping your feet together and without kicking. It enables you to focus only on your upper body while working out. An increasingly tricky workout may achieve the same outcome when an ankle band is used.

 

  • To keep your feet and hips from sinking, keep your core tight.

 

  • Go as far as the length of the pool or until you are too exhaustedto go anymore.

Safety Considerations:

Exercise is the best tool to stay healthy and fit, but you should be cautious that exercise may not cause injury or pain. Before starting any exercise, evaluate yourself about your fitness level, and then after discussing it with your trainer, choose your level of exercise.

You can start any exercise slowly and cautiously, then master it and take it to the advanced level by trying different positions.

However, it is advisable to work in the presence of a qualified trainer who is well aware of your strengths and weaknesses so that he may train you accordingly.

Core Muscle exercise

Summary:

Core muscles form an extensive network that includes everything between the chest and thighs. A strong core is crucial for everybody because it is the center of the body and is involved in everything you do, from walking and running to all everyday tasks.

Core strength can be achieved through exercise. If you prefer calisthenics, basic exercises are abdominal draw, planks, side planks, bird dog, and the bridge. If you want to strengthen your core in the pool, kickboard kicks, pikes, flutter kicks, dolphin kicks, and swimming with an ankle buoy or band may help.

Exercise is crucial for developing a solid core, but it is recommended in the presence of a qualified trainer.

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