Forget the crunches: here are a few of the best moves for a stronger core

Now that it’s beach season, a lot of us are focused on toning up our core for the summer. However, it’s important to remember that a strong core means a lot more than just flat abs! A strong core helps you achieve better posture, makes it easier to maintain better form in the rest of your workouts, relieves back pain, helps with your breathing in yoga, and also helps prevent injury.

Are you cranking out countless crunches on that gym mat? Unfortunately, crunches may not be the most effective move you can do to truly strengthen your core. Crunches require only a small range of motion and work just one muscle group, your upper abdominal muscles. Here are some new moves to try to strengthen the other muscle groups of your core, so you can gain an overall stronger, tighter center.

Remember, spot fat loss does not occur naturally. If you’re looking to slim down your middle, you have to train your whole body, include cardio exercise in your workout regimen, and make sure your diet consists of healthy, nutritious foods. However, these moves will definitely help you build strength in your back and upper, lower, and oblique abdominal by targeting the variety of muscle groups that make up your core.

Plank- works upper and lower abs, back, and glutes

When you’re on your forearms, make sure your elbows are at 90 degrees and directly below your shoulders. Brace your core, and keep your hips level. For beginners, try holding the plank with extended arms instead of on forearms. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Mountain climbers- works upper and lower abs, back, and glutes

Start in a plank with extended arms, and then pull one knee in at a time into your mid-section. Then, quicken your pace as if you are running in your plank, making sure to keep your hips level. Try 30–50 reps.

Leg lifts- works lower abs

Lying on your back, suck in your core as if it was pushing down into the floor. With your core engaged, lower your legs slowly until they are hovering a few inches above the ground, making sure your lower back stays on the floor. If your lower back starts to hurt or curl up off the floor, try placing your hands under your tailbone. Try 15 reps.

Bicycle abs- works obliques

Lie on your back, pressing your lower back into the ground. Put your hands behind your head, lift your shoulder blades off the ground, and bring your knee up 45 degrees to the ground. Pull your opposite shoulder to your opposite knee, and alternate. Try doing 50 reps (25 on each side) to start.

V ups- works upper abs

Lie on your back, pressing your lower back into the ground. Lift both your back and legs off the ground at the same time until you are in a V position (as indicated above). Hold for a second, then lower gently back down to the floor. Repeat for 15 reps.

What are some of your favorite core exercises? Let us know!

Author: Maggie Harriman

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