While many of us may dream of flat abs, having a strong midsection is more than just aesthetically-pleasing. A strong core (which includes your abdominals, back, waistline, and even the upper portion of your legs) can improve stamina, posture, stability, balance, and your ability to perform daily tasks. Better stability and balance can help reduce your risk for injuries and falls, while stronger core muscles can help prevent lower back pain, a debilitating condition that affects approximately 80% of adults. Before you get on the floor and start crunching, there are numerous fun and efficient ways to promote core strength. The following exercises can not only strengthen the core, but they can also promote weight loss and overall health!
Cycling, whether outdoors or in your favorite group cycling class, is an excellent way to strengthen your midsection. In addition to targeting your glutes, legs, and calves, sitting upright on a bike requires you to engage your abdominal and lower back muscles. Just remember, good posture is required to gain benefits, so make sure to avoid slouching. If you take an indoor class or have a local bike shop, ask a professional for help setting up the bike so that the saddle and bar heights are appropriate for your body. Proper bike fit is crucial to prevent injury and can also help you maximize core strength.
Yoga incorporates a number of poses that help improve balance and strength by engaging the core, including boat pose, tree pose, and numerous plank variations. Yoga also offers other benefits, including stress relief, better flexibility, and relief from lower back pain, just to name a few. Best of all, yoga is a gentle, low-impact form of exercise that is accessible to a variety of populations.
P.S. If you’re unsure where to begin, check out “Beginner Yoga Session with Mika” in our media library.
Pilates, a system of core-targeting movements developed by Joseph Pilates in 1912, is an excellent way to strengthen your entire midsection. Pilates is typically performed on the floor, either on an exercise mat or with specialized equipment. Gaining benefits from Pilates requires precision and proper form, so visit a qualified Pilates studio or search “Pilates” in the VHPGO media library to get started.
Kickboxing and boxing-inspired workouts are a calorie-blasting way to target the core. Various kicks, punches, and aerobic movements can sculpt your core while promoting cardiovascular endurance and weight loss. Be sure to keep your abdomen and lower back engaged during these moves for maximum benefit. Best of all, boxing is also a great way to relieve stress!.
Hopping on a rowing machine is another calorie-burning way to strengthen your midsection. With proper form (ask a gym staff member for pointers), rowing provides a quick and effective total-body workout. However, sometimes rowing can feel tiring or repetitive. To prevent boredom, try rowing in intervals. For example, row for 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds, for a total of 10 minutes. Additionally, group rowing classes are popping up all over the country. This variation on the indoor cycling class can make rowing your new favorite exercise!
Have you ever wondered about those rounded weights with handles? These oddly shaped weights are known as kettlebells and can be used to perform a variety of waist-whittling exercises. Classic kettlebell exercises like the Swing, Turkish Get-up, and Russian Twist are fun, challenging, and rely primarily on the core, making kettlebell exercise an especially effective form of core training. Just remember, swinging weights can be dangerous. Before adding kettlebells to your routine, seek guidance from a certified kettlebell instructor.
Standing & Seated Core Exercises
If you’re unable (or just don’t like) to exercise on the floor, there are many standing and seated exercises that can be used to strengthen the midsection. Examples include wood chops, windmills, and side bends. Just search “core” in our media library for a variety of effective and enjoyable standing and seated core routines!.
Core strength is vital to injury prevention and back health. For help incorporating core training into your routine, ask our Virtual Fitness Specialists a question via our messenger, peruse our media library, or attend a live class. We’re here, 24/7, to help you create a strong and healthy midsection!