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Get More Out Of Your Core Workout

*Courtesy of The Fitnessista

Core training is an integral component of any balanced fitness plan. Not only does it help stabilize us in everyday movements, but a strong core can improve posture, reduce back pain, and decrease the risk of injuries from lack of stabilization.

Some tips for core training:

You can train your core ANYWHERE. Sit up tall, lift up your chest and drop your shoulders down and back. Now, think about bracing your core and draw in the spot 2 inches below your belly button towards your spine. Hold for 10 seconds. Rest for 3-5 seconds and repeat. Sneaky core training! You can do this driving, at the office, watching TV, or during overdrawn conversations.

Make sure to train all components of the core. This is NOT just your six-pack muscles (rectus abdominis). I like to think of the core as our entire trunk: everything but our arms and legs. In your core training, be sure to include some transverse abdominis work (planking), oblique training (Russian twists), back work (deadlifts and Supermans), and if you’re an extra credit type person, pelvic floor strengthening (Kegels) and glute exercises (bridges and squats).

It’s typical to train the core as a moving muscle, but that’s not how we functionally use the core in everyday life. The core’s main job is stabilization. We do a lot of deadlifts during the day (especially if you have a tendency to drop things), squats (sitting to standing), stabilizing (all day!) and rotations. Think about how the exercises you choose will mimic and strengthen the movements for everyday activities.

Related: The Perfect Interval Training Playlist

Implementing core training in your routine:

You do not need to train your core every day. The muscles in your core are just that: muscles. Like all other muscles, they need time to rest and recover. I would recommend every other day.

Include a mixture of isolation work, unilateral work (training one side and then the other using kettlebells or a dumbbell), standing core work (I have a workout here!) and functional movements like medicine ball slams and woodchops.

Change it up! A good rule of thumb is if you did it last time, don’t do it this time. By constantly changing your routine, you will keep your body guessing and fight plateaus. Play with sets, reps, and various types of exercises.

Plank wisely. The plank can become a total-body exercise because after 10 seconds, our other muscles kick in to support our bodyweight. If you want this to be pure core-only, rest for 3 seconds after planking for 10 and repeat.

Add in a balance component. Challenging balance is a great way to kick in the deep core stabilizing muscles, and also work on proprioception. Nervea responses to tell our body where its located in space, which can help prevent falls as we age. An easy way to add a balance component: try variations of the exercises on a stability ball, BOSU, or standing on one leg.

Usually how often you train your core will not have a huge visible impact BUT, train your core for health, stabilization, posture, injury prevention and the countless other benefits. And because it’s fun!

The Fitnessista

The Fitnessista

Gina Harney blogs at www.fitnessista.com. She's an AFAA-certified group fitness instructor, NASM Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Weight Loss Specialist, Zumba, Barre and BODYPUMP instructor. Gina loves sharing her love of fitness with others and especially loves teaching classes. She's more of a casual runner and is enjoying running while pregnant with baby #2 (due in October!). She has partnerships with Almond Breeze almond milk and Blue Apron and lives in San Diego with her husband, daughter and two dogs.