It's fair to say, none of us would turn down toned abs and as we know, it requires putting in some work! Some of these are effective, whereas others are not effective at all. While it is true that there is no quick way to develop a strong core, there is most definitely a more effective way of doing it, and that involves a series of exercises that provide a deep core engagement that will help support and improve your entire mid section.
Strengthening your core is more than just building a 6 pack, you will find a noticeable improvement in your posture, stability and body strength. It's not uncommon for lower back pain to be caused by weakness in the core. A weak core can force other muscles to compensate as a result. It can have a big impact both on the active individual as well as on the one who is not so active in their daily lives.
Here's our top list of exercises you should try.
The most simple yet effective exercise; you can do this exercise anywhere weights-free (all you need is a stopwatch). You should maintain an upright posture, avoid dropping your hips to the floor or raising them too high (picture yourself a straight wooden plank). In order to gain proficiency in a plank exercise, you should target good form and technique, and as you progress you can add plank variations i.e. ‘side plank’, ‘plank with shoulder taps’ or even ‘Swiss ball plank circles’ — the benefits and variations of the plank exercise is endless.
2. Dead Bug
In terms of appearance, the Dead Bug exercise may not seem to have as much appeal as Crunches, but the latter is believed to build more superficial muscles in comparison. Doing too many Crunches may have the potential to adversely affect your rib cage as well as cause injuries to your spine and back, leading to poor posture. The Dead Bugs on the other hand will do exactly the opposite, strengthening your lower back, spine and midsection and improving your overall co-ordination and stability. I'm sure you won't be disappointed with the results once you see the 'show me off' muscles appear as you display your hard work. The more advanced you become, try adding small weighted dumbbells in each hand.
3. Half Kneeling Wood Chop
As well as training your core, the Wood Chop Exercise will strengthen your legs, shoulders and back as a result of engaging other parts of your body as well. The flexibility of your spine will increase, and you will also strengthen and stretch the oblique area - Try to avoid doing too many core exercises that close up the oblique area, this area benefits from being lengthened.
If you are a beginner or if you have a weak core generally, start with the half kneeling Wood Chop exercise, either with dumbbells or using a cable machine and progress from there. If you are a more advanced exerciser, you will find that the standing cable workload works the core muscles to their maximal potential.
4. Hanging Leg Raise/Knee Drive
The Hanging Leg Raise is a calisthenic exercise which isolates the core, hamstrings, hips, lower back, shoulders, and triceps. There are many benefits to doing this including building a solid core, alongside also strengthening the entire body strength collectively, from top to bottom. borntoworkout display a great example of this exercise below.
5. Flutter Kicks
The Flutter Kicks Exercise is an underrated core exercise that builds and tones the lower belly section while at the same time strengthening your glutes and lower back. As well as being good for your posture and stability, Flutter Kicks certainly adds multiple fitness benefits - the conditional work improving endurance and burning calories is another additional bonus here.