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By Letshego Zulu


5 exercises to help strengthen your core muscles

Having strong core muscles not only helps you stay steady and balanced but also improves your overall physical stability.

What is the core and why should you strengthen your core muscles? The core area includes muscles surrounding your stomach, lower back, pelvis, hips and glutes.

Even the pelvic floor and diaphragm can be considered part of the core because they play a pivotal role in supporting the abdomen.

Many people tend to get it wrong by thinking that the core is only your stomach muscles.

Exercises to strengthen core muscles
A group of people exercising at the gym. Picture: iStock

The importance of core strength for all ages

Strong core muscles help to improve your balance and stability so it is important for everyone, young and old, to strengthen their core muscles. In old age, a strong core can even help to minimise falls that can lead to serious injuries.

Core exercises do not generally require gym equipment, so you have a variety of core exercises that you can do anywhere, anytime.

Besides a variety of traditional stomach exercises, there are many other exercises that combine movements around your stomach muscles and lower back muscles that are also considered to be core exercises.

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Strengthen your core with these exercises
A pair exercising at the gym lifting dumbells. Picture: iStock

What are the benefits of a strong core?

  • One of the benefits of a strong core is injury prevention. Having a strong core ensures that you don’t easily get hurt from everyday activities such as bending down to pick up something off the ground, muscle strains or even fractured bones.
  • A strong core also reduces back pain that can be sustained from daily repetitive movements like gardening or cleaning the house.
  • A strong core also helps to improve your posture by maintaining the spine’s natural curve and pelvic alignment. This also adds to reducing back pain. Better posture also results in better breathing.
  • A strong core leads to better athletic performance. Most movements in many sports require the use of the core whether it is running, cycling, swimming or boxing. A strong core during sports ensures you perform your sport with adequate strength and technique. For example, in boxing, a strong core can help you deliver stronger jabs or punches.

5 exercises to strengthen your core muscles

Here are a few core exercises that you can incorporate into your training. You can search for videos online on how to perform them.

  1. Forward plank. Make sure you maintain a straight posture while performing the forward plank. Avoid dropping your glutes too low and sagging because that can cause lower back pain.
  2. Side plank. Same as the forward plank, make sure you maintain a straight posture from head to toe while balancing on your lower arm.
  3. Supermans. This one is good for strengthening and conditioning your lower back muscles.
  4. Hip thrusts. These are great for strengthening the muscles around your hips, pelvic region and your glutes.
  5. Burpees. This is an advanced exercise for the more conditioned athlete. Besides being a core exercise, it is also a full-body strength exercise that targets muscles of the upper and lower body.

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