Top 3 Ways to Improve Your Core Strength
The Importance of Core Work
We’ve all seen the guy in the gym who just bashes out a few reps on the bench, throws in a few bicep curls, and finishes off with a couple of sit ups. Not only is he wasting his time, but he is missing out on a very important factor of all training and exercise: the need to train and strengthen the core muscles.
What are your core muscles?
The core is a term used to describe the group of muscles around the mid-section of your body, in the main consisting of the transverse abdominal muscle, the pelvic floor muscles, the rectus abdominals and the obliques. Our core muscles are the root of every movement we make. They stabilize the pelvis, spine and ribs, which can improve posture and can reduce back pain and injuries. In football a strong core is as important as a good first touch. It plays a big role in your balance, speed and power. It provides stability for every movement you make and helps generate power, not just in the core, but throughout the whole body.
A six pack may look good but it doesn’t necessarily mean you have a stable, strong core. It’s vital that you work all the muscles around the core to reduce the risk of injury and muscular imbalance and generally any exercise you do where your body is slightly unstable or unbalanced will activate your core muscles.
Top 3 Tips For Greater Core Strength
Lying on your front put your forearms on the floor so that your elbows are directly under your shoulders. Next lift your body of the ground so that only your toes and forearms are on the floor. Keep your body nice and straight so that you knees are in line with your hips which are in line with your shoulders which should be in line with your ears. Draw in your navel very slightly contracting your core. Try to hold this for thirty seconds. If you can’t manage this bring your knees to the floor but then keep your body straight from your knees to your shoulders.
‘The Back Bridge’
Lying on your back put your hands at your sides, knees bent, feet flat on the floor under your knees. Tightening your buttocks and abdominals very slightly raise your hips off the ground. You want to have a straight line going from your knees to your shoulders. Remember to draw in the navel very slightly. Hold for thirty seconds. If you can’t do it for this long begin with just a few seconds and build up gradually.
Lie on your side with your forearm on the floor. Elbow should be bent and directly below your shoulder. Next lift your hip of the floor until your spine is straight. Top foot should be placed on bottom foot. Hold again if you can for thirty seconds but you can build up to this.
How it Has Helped
It was only through working with a very good sports scientist at one of my first football clubs that I started to take the training of my core muscles seriously, and I have to say that I have noticed a massive improvement in my all round balance, strength, and power.
There are still lots of people inside and outside of gyms that are unaware of the importance of the core muscles. By following these three simple exercises you can slowly start to build up your core strength that will set you on the path to achieving your wider fitness goals.
• Using the gym ball for sit ups is great for the core
• Using the Bosu ball when doing squats is another great way of activating the core
• Pilates is also an excellent and relaxing way to train your core