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How to Get a Stronger Core
The core muscles include those within your abdomen -- the rectus abdominis, transversus abdominis and obliques -- those surrounding your pelvis -- the gluteal muscles and hip flexors -- and the spinal erectors of your lower back. Strengthening these muscles improves your balance and stability, enables you to perform full-body movements effectively and may decrease your risk for certain injuries and chronic conditions. This requires your participation in a core-strengthening program, which includes a variety of resistance exercises that target the core muscles. Consult a personal trainer for guidance.
Get on all fours with your hands below your shoulders and your knees below your hips. Lift your hips and walk your feet backward slightly to straighten your legs, assuming a pushup position. Hold for at least 10 seconds, then relax.
Roll to your left side so that your hips are off the floor, your right hip is above your left hip and your legs stacked. Support your body with your left arm and the outside of your left foot. Hold this position for 10 seconds or more, then switch sides.
Sit on your bottom with your feet flat on the floor, about 6 inches apart, then lean back and place your palms on the floor behind your back at about shoulder width. Lift your hips to create a straight, horizontal line between your torso and upper legs. Hold this position for a minimum of 10 seconds.
Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor and under the edge of a couch. Hold a barbell or dumbbells above your chest with your arms fully extended, then sit up until your torso is vertical, allowing your hands to move over your head. Reverse to the starting position slowly, then repeat.
Hold a dumbbell by your left side from a standing position with your feet close together. Bend your torso to the left to lower the weight along the side of your leg and then to the right to lift the weight. Continue this movement pattern for your desired number of repetitions, then switch sides.
Put on ankle weights and hold a dumbbell in each hand, then lie face down on the floor with your arms extended forward. Lift your arms and legs simultaneously to squeeze your lower back, then return to the starting position slowly and repeat.
Lie on your back and squeeze a medicine ball or a stability ball between your legs. Place your palms on the floor with your arms extended away from your shoulders, then lift the ball until your legs are vertical. Lower the ball to the left as far as possible while keeping your shoulder blades on the floor, then reverse to the right. Continue alternating sides for your desired number of repetitions.
Put on ankle weights and hang from a bar with your feet off the floor. Flex your hips and knees, drawing the latter toward your chest as far as possible, then reverse to the starting position slowly and repeat.
Perform the isometric exercises daily and the dynamic exercises two or three times per week on nonconsecutive days.
Progressively increase the time for the isometric exercises and the amount of weight for the dynamic exercises over time.
Complete three sets of eight to 12 repetitions for each dynamic exercise, resting for one to two minutes between sets.
Participating in an exercise program can cause injuries, so consult your doctor if you experience any abnormal discomfort.
- Basic Biomechanics; Susan J. Hall
- NSCA's Essentials of Personal Training; Roger Earle, et al.
- ExRx.net: Waist Exercise Menu
- Chang WD, Lin HY, Lai PT. Core strength training for patients with chronic low back pain. J Phys Ther Sci. 2015;27(3):619–622. doi:10.1589/jpts.27.619
- Brumitt J, Matheson JW, Meira EP. Core stabilization exercise prescription, part I: current concepts in assessment and intervention. Sports Health. 2013;5(6):504–509. doi:10.1177/1941738113502451
- Javadian Y, Akbari M, Talebi G, Taghipour-Darzi M, Janmohammadi N.Influence of core stability exercise on lumbar vertebral instability in patients presented with chronic low back pain: A randomized clinical trial. Caspian J Intern Med. 2015;6(2):98–102. PMID: 26221508
- Perform the isometric exercises daily and the dynamic exercises two or three times per week on nonconsecutive days.
- Progressively increase the time for the isometric exercises and the amount of weight for the dynamic exercises over time.
- Complete three sets of eight to 12 repetitions for each dynamic exercise, resting for one to two minutes between sets.
- Participating in an exercise program can cause injuries, so consult your doctor if you experience any abnormal discomfort.
Matthew Schirm has worked in the sports-performance field since 1998. He has professional experience as a college baseball coach and weight-training instructor. He earned a Master of Science in human movement from A.T. Still University in 2009.