When it comes down to working out your core, a lot of people just don’t give it the time or attention it needs. Far too often, it is just relegated to be an afterthought of a workout, getting nothing more than a quick 10 minutes before you pick up your things and finish. Why is that? Almost every movement ties back into your core in some way, so it’s important to build a strong one if you want your body to be efficient and injury-resistant in everything else you do.
With that in mind, there are many ways to engage your core, train it effectively, and increase the difficulty that goes beyond simple crunches and the number of reps you can do. If you want to increase your athletic performance, easily maintain correct posture, reduce your risk for injury, and just have better overall workouts, keep reading. We’ll cover 5 easy ways for you to do all of these with simple ways core exercises and a few alternative ways of progression.
- Activate it More During the Exercises You Already Do
Did you know there are tons of ways to get your core more involved during your regular workout? You don’t even need to dedicate a separate time on the mat to do your abs – you can get them working at almost any point in your workout.
One way to force your core to become more involved is to hold weight overhead or even just put your hands up. You can do this during squats or lunges or even when you are just walking around. Doing either will help keep your spine in a more neutral position, leading you to activate your core and shoulders more. It’ll help you to get more out of the exercises you already do.
- Use Balance to Increase the Intensity
Any kind of exercise that forces you to stay balanced while you do it will not only increase the difficulty of it but also engage your core more. Consider, for example, lifting one arm or one leg when doing a plank, or even standing on one leg during an upper body exercise. You’ll force your core to activate while also increasing the difficulty of the current exercise, which is a win all-around.
- Incorporate More Twists
Doing twists in your workout is a great way to get your core activated and also mimic many of the natural movements we make throughout the day. There’s plenty of easy ways for you to do this, too: twisting your torso at the top of a step-up, bottom of a lunge, or even during a pull-up. Not only will these rotational exercises hit your obliques, but you’ll be increasing the difficulty of your current exercises.
- Hold and Pause during Movements
Whether you’re at the top of your pull-up or the bottom of a squat, consider pausing to hold it for a few extra seconds. Doing so is an easy way to engage your core and forcing it to help keep you stabilized. That final pause is also an easy way to increase the difficulty of your current set without having to increase the number of reps you do or increase the weight – which is perfect for a workout on the go or with limited equipment.
- Use Equipment that Tests Your Balance
There’s no shortage of exercise equipment that can test your core while also being great for whatever body part you are targeting. For the basics, consider incorporating more dumbbells and kettlebells into your regimen, which allow for a more fluid range of motion as opposed to barbells.
The next step after that would be having access to stability or BOSU balls as well as bands, which are perfect for at-home workouts or even on-the-go while you’re traveling (at least the bands, anyway). These will test your core’s ability to stay balanced during whatever exercise you are currently doing. And finally, consider taking it to the next level by utilizing a sandbag, which is the ultimate way to give yourself an overall body workout while being focused on your core.
A Strong Core is the Foundation of a Healthy Body
Making your core stronger doesn’t require endless situps or crunches. Simply adjusting your current workout with balance or equipment in mind can often be enough to give you that extra edge that your core needs. Making your entirety of it stronger – from your spine and glutes to all of your various ab muscles – will ensure you stay injury free and strong in your day-to-day living and all of the exercises you do.