Your core muscles are vitally important for just about every activity you engage in. A strong core promotes balance (and therefore fall prevention), coordination, good posture, strong bones, and much more.
Today’s exercise is a core muscle strengthener. It can be done with or without weights, and if you choose to use weights, you can easily substitute water bottles or cans of food.
So let’s get started!
In addition to promoting optimal bone health, a strong, flexible core has real-life applications. Here are some tasks and activities that you may never have associated with your core muscles, yet they’re essential for the safe performance of these tasks. If your core muscles are weak or tight, you’re at greater risk of falling during any of these activities.
There are many activities that come under the heading of “housework.” Just about all of it requires various amounts of bending, twisting, reaching, stooping, and more. If you’re mopping, for instance, you have to bend and stand back up, and move the mop back and forth across the floor. Dusting, vacuuming, washing windows, carrying laundry, and so forth all use core muscles.
When you engage in sporting activities such as tennis, golf, soccer, weight-lifting, bowling, swimming…any sport, you’re using your core muscles. Swinging a racket or bat, running, jumping, pedaling, and kicking a ball are all examples of actions that use your core muscles.
Yoga, Pilates, Aerobics, etc.
Rather than a sport, you may prefer exercise programs and activities like the above. These also use your core muscles, and in fact, many moves in Yoga and Pilates deliberately target the core.
Did you know that a strong core prevents aches and pains from desk work? Strong core muscles make desk work less damaging by promoting proper posture and functional movement as you answer the phone, type, bend to pick up a file, etc.
Yes, even bathing taps into your core muscles. In fact, falls in the bath or shower are significant risks for those with weak core muscles and poor balance. A strong core makes bathing a much safer activity.
The kneeling, bending, reaching, digging, cutting, hoeing, and other garden activities are hard work. Anyone who’s ever done it know it’s great exercise! But you may not know how much you’re using your core while you’re weeding, planting, and so forth.
DIY projects around the house involve your core muscles. Maybe you’re lifting a shelf or drilling a hole in the wall to put something up. You might be painting, sanding, doing yard work, or hammering. You’re using your core the whole time.
It probably never occurred to you to think of the muscles you use when you dress yourself. But holding your arms over your head, “wiggling” in to a shirt, stepping into a pair of pants, and all such moves use your core muscles.
What Are The Core Muscles?
Now that we’ve looked at the myriad of activities involving your core, you might be wondering just what muscles are included. Most people think mainly of the abdominal or tummy muscles when they think of the core, but there is more involved.
The main core muscles are deep, lying close to the spine and connecting to the pelvis. They include the pelvic floor muscles, transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis, erector spinae, the obliques, the psoas, and the diaphragm. Because these muscles lie deep in your torso, they don’t “show” like the more superficial ones do, so they may get neglected in your average workout.
But working the core is essential for the reasons noted above, and also in order to build bone strength in key areas of the skeleton. Your spine and pelvis need pressure from muscles and gravity to build and strengthen, a fact elucidated by Wolff’s Law.
So given the importance of these muscles, let’s take a look at how to strengthen them, starting with the Weighted Core Strengthener.
Feel free to do this exercise without any weights if you prefer, and you can also use water bottles or cans of food instead of dumbbells if you wish. I suggest you use an exercise mat if you don’t have a carpet.
- Sit down on the floor and extend your legs out straight. If you’re using weights, hold one in each hand with your hands out to the side (elbows bent).
- Lean back slightly and bring your knees up to your chest.
- At the same time, bring your hands forward to the sides of your legs. Keep your elbows bent.
- Extend your legs again, but keep them off the floor; your heels should not touch the floor.
- At the same time as you are extending your legs, bring your arms back out to your sides, elbows bent. Your upper arms will move away from your body as you bring them back, but your elbows stay bent.
- Bring your knees up and your hands forward again. Repeat the leg extension, knees up, and arms back and forth in one smooth movement.
- Repeat this move 10 times, or as many reps as you are comfortable with.
As you can see (and feel!), this move also works the arms and chest muscles, even if you don’t use weights. You can feel your core muscles really kicking in, too.
Many moves in the Densercise™ Epidensity Training System target the core. For example, the Chair Knee Lift on page 38 works the core muscles, and many other exercises include directions like “engage core.” As I discussed earlier, this key muscle group is involved in many, many motions, so you can rest assured that a comprehensive, bone-building workout like Densercise™ will also work your core.
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How did you like this weekend’s exercise? Did you find it challenging or easy? Please share your experience with the Saver community by leaving a comment below.
Enjoy the weekend!