5 Exercises to Build an Unbreakable Core
For those of you that have ever worked with me or the other trainers at Straight Shot, you know how much we value core stability and strength for our clients. Everyone, regardless of ability, age, goals, or limitations can reap the benefits of consistent core work. A strong and stable torso is the foundation for nearly any exercise and movement. When done properly, a well rounded regimen that strengthens your entire core musculature can even prevent strains and injuries to the surrounding areas.
Core musculature is composed of so much more than the ever popular abdominals. Your glutes, obliques, and deep muscles that connect to your spine (such as the quadratus lumborum and multifidus). If you enhance your stability for ALL of these muscles with a variety of exercises, you can prevent strength imbalances, chronic tightness, and ensure you have the strongest base possible for completing a wide range of tasks!
My personal list of Top Five Core Exercises are in no particular order, list the specific benefits of each exercise, and include a short demo video for each one!
1. Deadbugs - Deadbugs are one of the best basic core strength exercises (despite the funny name). They are simple enough for beginners, and can be progressed by adding weight and bands for more experienced athletes. To perform a deadbug, lay on your back with your spine in a neutral position on the floor and gently pull your belly button in to brace your core. Start with your arms and legs in, then extend the opposite arm and opposite leg, alternating between each side. Make sure you are keeping that tension in your core throughout the entire movement, and don’t forget to breathe!
2. Superman Hold- Superman holds are a wonderful exercise for total core stability, including the often neglected muscles in your mid-low back. They are also very sneaky and are more difficult than they look! Lying on your stomach, pick your arms and legs up off the floor while keeping them straight, and hold that position with as little movement as possible. Some cues that I really like to use with my client for these is “look into the floor,” “squeeze your back” and “squeeze your glutes.” These ensure you are bracing properly and have your neck in the correct position.
3. Mixed Grip Farmer’s Carry- Many people don’t associate heavy carries with core work at first glance, however they are some of the best things you can do to challenge your stability. Out of all the types of farmer’s carries out there, mixed grip carries are my absolute favorite for a few reasons; they challenge overhead scapular stability, front rack rack stability, core stability, and coordination all at the same time. As shown in the video, there are several different ways they can be done. The biggest focus, regardless of which variation you choose, should be to pull your ribs down and brace as you walk. If you have a weight overhead, push that weight into the ceiling at the same time.
4. Kneeling Banded Chops- Chops are a fantastic exercise for core rotational strength! Rotational strength is an often neglected fitness component that really enhances your overall strength and ability to move in all planes of motion. Kneeling on one knee, hold the band with both arms outstretched. Rotate from your torso in a diagonal line across your body, making half an ‘X.’ As you come down, think of contracting your abs and obliques (sides). For those of you that don’t have a band or rack to tie it on, I recommend using a dumbbell or plate instead! The motion is exactly the same, it will just feel a little different since you are bringing the weight up as you rotate (these are called Reverse Chops)
5. Glute Bridge Hold- Your glutes are part of your core too! Glute bridges are a great way to build strength and forge a stable relationship between your hips and spine. Weak glutes often contribute to pain and weakness in your low back, so if you are someone that is prone to low back issues I would try these out! They can be done unbanded or banded (as shown below). Lying on your back, plant your feet about hip width apart and raise your hips up so they are roughly in line with your shoulders. Squeeze your glutes together as you hold at the top.
Building up a solid foundation of strength around your spine and hips helps immensely with other exercise movements, strength goals, and day-to-day tasks! Working your core in all ranges of motion is paramount to the ability to complete a wide variety of tasks with minimal risk of injury and pain. All of us at Straight Shot program exercises like these in a scientific, progressive manner to keep our clients healthy, happy, and strong. If you want to unlock that extra potential with a plan that is 100% customized, fun, and progressive, reach out! We’d love to work with you.