Core Training Exercises for Core Strength

by Joey Atlas - M.S., Exercise Physiology
Your selection of core exercises can mean the difference between great progress and definite results with your core training program or not getting any results at all - and possibly even getting injured.
 
There are hundreds of muscles in the core of your body - the abdominals (all layers), lower and mid back, pelvic region, obliques and the popular 'love handle' areas are loaded with muscles of all different sizes, shapes, lengths and angles - which require specific exercises to produce the desired strength training effect for optimal fitness.
 
The following exercises can serve as a core training primer for beginners or they can be added or substituted into your current core workout routine.
 
1 – Lying face up, hand down at your side. Bring your legs up, knees slightly bent with the bottom of your feet toward the ceiling. This is your start position. While keeping the abdominals pulled in (contracted), slowly lower your right leg, until the heel touches the ground, and then raise it back up. Do this fifteen times. Then switch legs. To engage the core even more - try alternating legs on this one instead of doing one side and then the other.
 
2 – Lying face up with knees bent, feet off the floor. Arms are extended as if reaching toward the sky if you were standing. As you breathe out, slowly bring your knees toward you by contracting your abdominals (pulling inward). Then breathe in as you return to the start position. To get deeper into the core - try doing this with your left ankle crossed on the right knee - just above it on the lower thigh area. Then do the same on the other side.
 
3 - Lying face up with knees bent, heels on the ground and toes pointing up. Lift your butt off the ground and contract the abs to engage the core muscles. Now, here is where the fun starts. Lift one foot off the floor, extending that leg until it is straight, bring it back to the start position (heel on ground) and then do the same with the other leg. Keep alternating until you do a total of twenty, ten on each side.
 
If this workout sequence is too easy, go through it again and see how you do. If it was too challenging, decrease the number of repetitions to about five and do this every other day. Gradually increase the repetitions as your core gets stronger.
 
A crucial mistake many people, even trainers, make is to mimic the core training routines of bodybuilders or power-lifters. The problem with that is most people are not bodybuilders or power-lifters - and these people tend to over-train anyway, generally speaking (I know this because I used to do it myself!).
 
The problems here range from a lot of wasted time to serious, long term injuries. This happens every day to people who try to exercise without proper guidance and it’s one the reasons why physical therapists are so busy!
 
The proper core training workout must be designed to provide the most effective exercise training stimulus to the entire midsection, in the shortest amount of time (because we are all very busy people, right?), with minimal risk of injury. The problem is it is extremely rare to find an abdominal and core workout routine that fits all of these criteria.
 
Structure your own program according to the principles outlined above, with the proper selection of core exercises for effective and safe results.
Feel free to include the exercises outlined above into your current core workouts. If you are a beginner this can actually be a great workout for you to get started with.

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Copyright 2007 Joe E Atlas, Inc for Core Strength Training Workouts. All rights reserved