Have you ever noticed that most of the exercises that you do on a back day focus on the upper part of your back? Even complex exercises like squats do not primarily focus on the lower back. Even then it is the lower back that turns out to be sore after a workout session 8 out of 10 times. Do you know what is the reason behind this pain?
Well, it is either a weak core or zero focus on the lower back or both. Deadlifts are one of the best exercises for the lower back but it could be difficult for someone who has been just introduced to the gym culture.
In such a case, you should focus on strengthening your core until you get strong enough to do deadlifts. A strong core provides you with better stability, improves your posture, prevents injuries and helps you in lifting heavier weights. When you enter the gym you should always be asking yourself- ‘How do I make my core stronger?
If you are finding difficulty in maintaining the right posture while lifting heavy weights, chances are your core is not as strong as it should be. Once you are successful in strengthening your core, you’ll see a lot of positive changes in your workout routine. The question is how to do it. Well, there are dozens of exercises that can help you in building a strong core and we have brought the six best exercises to help you achieve your goal.
Core exercises are not always meant to give you six-packs and abs. The Cat-Cow pose or the Chakravakasana is the pose that will help you in improving your posture and balance. It is also very helpful in dealing with back pain. Doing this pose for 1 minute before and after your workout will help you in keeping the back pain at bay and your form will improve significantly.
How to do:
- Get on your all fours and keep your spine straight. Now, move into the cow pose while inhaling. (Press your chest forward in such a way that your belly comes in the position to sink).
- Lift your head and keep your shoulders relaxed and look ahead.
- Now come into the cat pose while exhaling. Round your spine outward in such a way that your pubic bone moves forward.
- Release your head towards the floor and relax.
The plan is another great exercise for the core. Whether you are a beginner struggling to get the right posture or someone who regularly goes to the gym, the plank will certainly help you in meeting your goals. It improves stability, engages the core and strengthens it at the same time. You also develop resistance as you do a plank. You can do this after you’ve finished complex abs exercises. Doing a plank for one or two minutes is sufficient.
How to do:
- Get on your elbows and toes while facing the ground.
- Keep the core straight and tight and make sure that your belly or head is not touching the floor.
- Breathe regularly and keep the focus on your core.
V-Ups are great for your core and you will also get your abs to show if you manage to do this exercise correctly and regularly. This exercise engages your entire core and you may find it difficult to pull it off correctly in the beginning. But keep practicing as it is a great exercise that will take your core strength to the next level.
How to do:
- Lie down on a mat or floor on your back.
- Lift your arms in such a way that they are behind your head. Make sure that your arms are straight.
- Bend your knees slightly and lift your legs off the ground as well. Make sure that your hip is firmly placed on the floor.
- Now move upwards in such a way that your hands touch your feet while your hips remain on the floor. Pause for a second and go back to the initial position slowly.
This one is easier in comparison to the V-ups. But easier doesn’t mean less beneficial. Leg raises improve your posture significantly, make your abs show up and add strength to your core. Make sure that your back doesn’t hurt while doing the leg raises. You can do 2-3 sets of leg raises with 15 to 20 reps in each set.
How to do:
- Lie down on the floor or a mat and breathe.
- Place your hands on either side with your palms facing downwards and tighten your core.
- Lift your legs without bending the knees in such a way that your hips are off the floor.
- Squeeze the core a little and move back to the initial position slowly.
Side Plank is a special kind of plank that focuses on the sides of your core that are known as obliques. These muscles play an important role in protecting your spine against injuries. This exercise helps in getting into shape and also adds strength to the core. In addition, it also prevents you from injuries during lifting. Side plank also helps you in fixing your posture.
How to do:
- Lie on your right side on a mat or floor with your legs straight and one over another.
- Place your right elbow under your right shoulder in such a way that your forearm is pointed away from you and the pinky finger is in contact with the floor when your fist is closed.
- Engage your core and lift your hips off the ground while your ankles are still in contact with the ground.
- Your bodyweight should be concentrated over the elbow and your core should be engaged to balance the part of the body in the air.
- Hold this position for 30 secs to 1 minute as per your capacity. Repeat this with the left side.
Bird Dog is another great exercise for strengthening your core muscles and saying goodbye to the lower back pain. This exercise not only engages your core but also your hips and arms. It is one of the easiest core exercises but the benefits of this exercise are great. This exercise will also help you in boosting your endurance.
How to do:
- Go on your all fours over a matin such a way that your palms and knees are in direct contact with the floor and your wrists are under shoulders while knees are under the hips.
- Look down towards the floor while engaging the core to make a tabletop position.
- Now extend your left arm and right leg away from the floor in such a way that they are parallel to the floor. Hold this position for 3-4 seconds and return to the initial position.
- Repeat this with your right arm and left leg. This completes one rep. Perform 8 to 12 reps of this exercise.