There are many ways to strengthen the core, the area of the body that includes the transverse abdominis, the internal and external obliques, the rectus abdominis, and the erector spinae. Find out more about the core in the Kore blog http://wix.to/NgQKutw?ref=2_cl . The core can be strengthened using both static (isometric) and dynamic (muscles shorten and lengthen to control movements). Which type of exercise is better?
Static core exercises include plank, side plank, and hollow holds. The benefits of static hold exercises include increasing muscular strength and endurance as well as building foundational strength for more dynamic movements:
Hollow Hold: Lie on your base and keep the lower back on the floor. Draw the belly button to the spine. Bring arms overhead and legs straight with toes pointed. Engage the abs and glutes. Slowly start to elevate legs and shoulders off the ground. The head should come off the floor along with the shoulders (keep ears between shoulders). Keeping the abs and glutes tight, bring the arms and legs down to the lowest point that they can be without touching the ground or arching the lower back. To modify, keep legs and arms in a higher position. Hold the position as long as possible while keeping good form.
Plank: Position the body on the floor on the stomach. Come up on the forearms and keep the elbows underneath the shoulders. Keep the core engaged by drawing the navel to the spine and keep the legs straight. Make sure that the hips don't start to lift or drop. Keeping the whole body engaged, hold the plank for as long as possible. Modify by doing the plank on the knees.
Side Planks: Great to develop oblique strength - start on your side with shoulders, hips, and feet stacked. The elbow is directly under the shoulder on the lifting side. Keep the head aligned with the spine. The upper arm can be aligned with the top side of the body. Engage the abs and lift up hips and knees keeping torso in a straight line. Try to keep the stability in the shoulder girdle as you hold the plank. Hold for as long as possible. Modify the movement by assisting with the bottom leg bent and/or using the top arm on the floor to assist with stability.
Dynamic core exercises include mountain climbers, Russian twists, and flutter kicks. Dynamic core exercises can help build the strength and stability for functional movements as well as incorporating more power into movements what can benefit in sports and other activities.
Mountain Climbers: starting in a high plank position, keeping wrists under shoulders and neutral spine. Bring one knee towards the chest and then bring it back to starting and switch legs. Keep core engaged and neck/head aligned with the back (neutral spine). Try doing 30 second to 60 second intervals for increased cardio.
Russian Twists: sit on the floor with legs straight. Lean back slightly so the torso and legs form a V-shape. Brace the abdominals to engage the core. Keep the position and twist upper body side to side. Add a dumbbell for more challenge. Keep heels on the floor to modify.
Flutter Kicks: Start on the mat on your back. Draw navel to spine and keep core engaged. Raise the head, neck, and shoulders off the ground holding hands behind the head and chin tucked. Lift legs off the floor without letting the lower back arch. Move feet up and down in the air in a swimming type motion.
Building core strength can benefit from both static and dynamic core exercises. Static exercises build the endurance and foundation for many of the dynamic exercises that are often progressions or variations of static exercises. Keeping the core strong and prepared for functional movements can help reduce the chance of injury and improve your overall level of fitness. Start with modified variations to begin and progress as your strength increases.