If you have weak core muscles you will find your balance is poor. This leads to an unstable body, increasing the possibility that you could suffer a fall. A weak core also makes you feel physically weak.
You can support more physical effort when your core is strong. Most people think of core muscles as your abs. But your core is actually composed of 6 groups of 29 muscles located in your upper thigh, lower back, and the sides and front of your stomach.
How Do You Know If Your Core Is Weak?
You may have an extremely strong core that is located beneath several layers of fat. This means you can actually look overweight and still have a very healthy core.
So how can you tell if your core is weak or strong? A poor core and chronic lower back pain often accompany each other.
If you experience frequent tightness and pain in your lower back, a weak core could be a part of the problem. Since core muscles also protect your spine, poor posture is sometimes a sign of a weak core.
Do you slouch when you stand or sit? This might be because your core muscles are weak, and cannot support your upper body for extended periods of time.
How is your balance? A weak core leads to poor balance. Try this. Stand with your feet 6 to 8 inches apart and start a timer. Close your eyes and lift one of your feet up off of the floor.
Balance as long as you can, keeping your eyes closed. You should be able to stay in this position for a minimum of 10 seconds. If not, you need to work on your core muscles. Try this with each of your legs.
You can also take a simple breathing test to see how strong your core is. While standing, take a deep breath. Hold for a second and then exhale.
When you begin exhaling, compress your stomach back towards your spine as far as you can possibly go. If you cannot hold this pose for at least 10 seconds, your core definitely needs some work.
You can also test your core by holding the plank position. Lie face down on the floor. Supporting yourself on your forearms, with your elbows at a 90 degree angle, straighten your spine from your neck to your ankles.
If you cannot hold this position for at least 50 or 60 seconds before you crash to the floor, your core needs some help.
How Can You Strengthen Your Weak Core Muscles?
To improve your weak core muscles it is important to train your abs as well as lower back.
In thinking about how to get abs I want to be clear that the central part of your body which includes your abs and your lower back as well as your sides is a very important part of your body. Just think how you would not be able to reach over or to the side or even to keep your body upright if you did not have a strong set of abdominal muscles. So more than just vanity a strong set of abs is very important to our health.
How to Get Great Abs – Are Your Abs Hiding?
For many people there is a lot of exercise going on in the abdominal region and this may consist of situps, crunches and leg raises, but if you are hiding your abs then what is the point?
The first thing you need to do is pinch your fat on the front and side of your stomach and see how much fat is sitting there.
Are you a little too fat? There is no such thing as spot reducing your abs so it is best to try and lose whatever fat you have been getting a good diet going.
Exercises for Great Abs To Strengthen Your Overall Core
The best way to get abs is by working your muscles correctly. For most of us there are two key types of exercises and those are upper ab exercises and lower ab exercises. To work these two parts of your abs you need to do crunches and leg raises.
Crunches – If you do not know yet what a crunch is then I would be glad to tell you. Basically a crunch is just an exercise where you lie on the floor with your lower legs to the knee resting up on a bench or chair (make sure you are lying on some kind of mat) you just do a half a situp, that is you raise your shoulders up about 6 inches off the floor and then drop them back down.
If you are doing this correctly then you will feel the pull in your abs and will not be able to do more than 15-20 reps before you just can not raise your shoulders anymore.
Leg Raises – I love doing this exercise. You again lie down on the floor and bring your knees up toward your chest and then back down straight on the ground.
I find that if I hold onto something behind my head that it makes it a lot easier to do this exercise.
Again if you can do 15-20 reps of this you are doing well and over time you will be able to do more as you get more sets in.
These two exercises can be done like any other muscle group which is about two or three times a week and you should do two to three sets per workout that you are working abs.
The days after your first workout you will find that your muscles are quite sore the next day. Your abs will get stronger quite quickly and not nearly as sore the next day over time.
Did this post tell you what you need on how to get great abs? If you have any questions please comment below and either I or someone else should be able to help.
Next Is Building Your Lower Back – Strengthen the Back Of The Core Muscles
Many people looking for core strength neglect lower back exercise while focusing on the abs. This is a huge mistake as the muscles of the back are vital for core strength. If you are undertaking any kind of workout program or even for normal day to day life, the back must be strong to avoid back injuries.
Why You need Lower Back Exercise
The first thing to say when we consider lower back exercise is that especially if you have current back pain or a recent injury or medical condition you should consult with your doctor or physiotherapist before undertaking any exercise program. While gentle stretching and controlled movement is generally good for healing back injuries, intensive exercise is usually better postponed until your pain is gone. Also, there are many causes of back pain and some require more rest than others.
Assuming you are fit and well, there are a number of exercises that can be undertaken to improve your lower back strength. Some of the best of these are included lower back exercise in the series of stretches and poses known as yoga.
Yoga as Lower Back Exercise
Many of the forms and postures in yoga training are a perfect lower back exercise for improving the flexibility and strength of the back. There are many different muscles in the back and if any of them are neglected, as they often are if we do not perform regular stretching exercises in all directions, they become tight. This can lead to distortion of the spine (causing back pain) or injuries when these neglected muscles are suddenly called into action.
If you do not want to join a yoga class, you can perform the same lower back exercise at home. Find a yoga DVD that includes the poses that you need. If you are looking online, searching for the Indian names of the stretches or poses (called asanas in yoga) makes them easy to find. Look for the following lower back exercise stretches or postures:
- pelvic tilt (not strictly a yoga pose but you will find it on many yoga sites)
- knee to chest (pawanmuktasan)
- supine twist (supta matsyendrasana) or half spinal twist (ardha matsyendrasana)
- cat (marjariasana)
- cobra (bhujangasana)
- downward facing dog (adho mukha svanasana)
It is important to do them all because they have different and complementary actions on the spine. In other words, they balance each other out.
Lower Back Exercise – Watch your posture
Move into each position slowly and be sure to follow all of the instructions, noticing especially the correct position of your head. You can hold each position for 2-3 minutes. You will probably find that you can comfortably increase the stretch once or twice while you hold, as your lower back exercise muscles become accustomed to the pose.
Do not expect to be able to do the pose to the full extent demonstrated by the teacher. This is especially true if you are more muscular than the teacher or others in the class. A muscular body will be less flexible. There are also differences between the sexes in how far they can stretch in certain poses. That is natural and nothing to be concerned about. Yoga is not a competition, it is just about increasing your own flexibility within the range that you have. And in your case it is a great lower back exercise.
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Keep in mind that yoga exercises should never stress the muscles or the spine. Do not try to stretch to your limits. You should be able to breathe freely without constriction at all times during your lower back exercise program.
With these tips and workout ideas you can go from having weak core muscles to a very strong core with all of those advantages that a great core gives you.