The coveted six-pack is more than just a cosmetic accessory. Flaunting a chiseled midsection announces that a person actually has network of strong muscles working together to stabilize their spine, and hold their torso at an ideal posture. In addition to acting as a natural girdle, core strength is necessary to perform everyday activities effectively and free of injury.
When training your core for true fitness, it is crucial to work more than just the abs. The entire core is made of the rectus abdominus muscle, (the six pack), the external and internal obliques, the transverse abdominus, and the lower back. Utilizing exercises that engage all of these muscles will develop a well balanced core. In addition to traditional crunches, effective exercises have been developed for the sole purpose of developing and strong midsection. Working the core at least twice a week can give a noticeable difference in the comfort of everyday life.
1. Side Plank
One of the most effective core exercises available, the side plank works virtually the entire core. The feature that sets aside from the rest is the level at which it engages the internal obliques. The internal obliques are the muscle closest to the spine, thus having the ability to directly protect it. Start by laying on your side with your forearm propping up your upper body. With your weight on your forearm and the outside of your foot, lift you hip off the ground. Hold this side plank for 20-30 seconds and repeat on the other side. If you only have time for one exercise, this is the best choice.
This exercise looks exactly the way it sounds. In similar fashion to the side plank, the v-sit forces all the core muscles to engage in the stabilization necessary to perform the exercise. Start sitting on the floor with knees bent. Keeping the shoulders back and back straight, slowly lift both feet off the floor. For beginners, this may be the extent of the exercise. To advance the exercise, begin to straighten the legs while continuing to focus on keeping the back straight and the core muscles tight. Hold the v-sit for 20-30 seconds.
3. Side Twists
Stand with your back to wall while holding a weighted ball close to your chest. Twisting from your torso, turn to touch the ball to the wall, and then turn to the other side. Repeat 20 times. Be sure to not reach with your arms, but to twist only using the core muscles.
The core is one of the most important groups of muscles your body has. To increase everyday comfort, increase strength, and attain true fitness, adopt a healthy routine of core muscle training.