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Best Exercises to Help Strengthen Your Core
Want to improve your core strength? Learning how to strengthen core muscles can help boost your balance, posture, and stability. Check out our guide to the perfect core strength workout today—your friends at Jack City Fitness have you covered.
Want a Strong Core?
You’re not alone. The benefits of a strong core are respected and admired by folks from every athletic circle possible.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word core as the “basic, essential, or enduring part,” and we couldn’t agree more. In athletic and everyday life, a strong core is key! It helps folks perform their best, whether that’s at the gym, at home, or out on an adventure.
Why Is Core Strength Training Important?
There are many benefits of a strong core, including:
- Increased Stability
A strong core is known to promote better stability and balance, and this can translate to several aspects of an athlete’s life. It will, of course, lend itself to peak performance in balance-heavy workouts like yoga, pilates, or dance—but that’s not all. Having a good sense of balance will make daily activities, like standing on a busy train or bus, safer and easier.
- Better Posture
Sure, we all know that slouching is a bad habit—but why? As it turns out, bad posture isn’t only unflattering. It can be harmful to your back—and sometimes other body parts as well. A weak core can lead to poor posture.
Engaging in a regular core strength workout can help an athlete improve their overall stance, giving their back and shoulders the support they deserve.
- Less Pain
Weak-cored folks might find they experience more pain than those with strong cores—and not just during workouts. Poor core strength can lead to pain during daily activities—and that can get pretty complicated. For example, if you spend eight hours a day slouching at a desk without engaging those core muscles, you could end up with issues like compressed spinal discs.
By maintaining core strength, athletes can avoid these painful issues.
- Safer Organs
Your abdominal muscles play several crucial roles. One of the most major? They encase and protect several of your most essential organs, veins, and arteries. By increasing your abdominal strength, you are giving another layer of security to your internal organs and arteries.
- Less Chance of Injury
As athletes, we always strive to prevent injury—and building core strength is a great way to do that.
Have you ever hurt yourself just by moving “the wrong way”? This is a fairly common occurrence. When arduous tasks, like an intensive workout, or even lifting a heavy piece of furniture, are performed without an engaged core, injury is possible.
When your body is in a stable, core-led position, it is easier to perform these arduous tasks without risk of injury.
Having a strong core generally leads to a body that is more toned and fit-looking overall. This, combined with the increased strength and sense of balance offered by a powerful core, leads to increased self-confidence in many athletes.
Our Favorite Exercises to Strengthen Your Core
Sure, we all know that alligator crawls, push-ups, and crunches strengthen the core, but there’s a world beyond the classics. Try these simple yet effective core training exercises today—our team swears by them!
Planking is a tried and true core training exercise. We can see why; it’s highly effective, fairly straightforward, and (as the strange social media trend showed us in 2011), it can be performed anywhere.
To perform a plank:
1. Begin on the floor.
2. Place your forearms and knees on your mat. Your shoulders should be directly over the elbows, and your hands should be extended.
3. Once you’re in position, tuck your toes. Gently lift your knees away from the mat. Be sure to hold your form and keep that core taut!
4. Hold this pose for at least a minute.
The three-point touch is swiftly gaining popularity in fitness communities. We love its ability to strengthen the core without needing anything but a yoga mat.
To perform the three-point touch:
1. Get into a push-up position on your mat.
2. Align your hands right beneath your shoulders, and keep your feet together.
3. Twist your hips to bring your left leg underneath your body and over to the right side. Now, touch the floor with your heel. That’s point one!
4. Bring the leg back to its original position, with your toes touching the mat. That’s your second point—almost there!
5. Finally, bring it out to the side and touch the floor with your toe. That’s point three; you got it!
6. Repeat the entire process with your right leg.
7. Repeat for at least 60 seconds.
The bridge pose finds its way into several workouts. Aside from being a core strength superpower, we love what a satisfying stretch it provides.
To safely perform the bridge:
1. Lay on your back atop your mat.
2. Plant your feet on the mat (with your knees pointing skyward) and keep them apart—the length of your hip.
3. Engage your abdominal muscles, press your back deeply into the floor, and place your arms on the ground, alongside your body.
4. Pull your shoulders back into the mat, as you did with your back.
5. Starting with your pelvis, lift your body from the mat, one vertebra at a time, and try to get your hips as high up as possible.
6. Slowly return your body to the mat, vertebra by vertebra.
7. Repeat this exercise for 60 seconds. Over time, you can work your way up to longer reps.
Can Athletes Achieve Abdominal Strength Through Nutritional Changes?
Core strength training is the way to powerful abs. However, a nutritious diet will certainly help your core work show itself in your body! These foods help your body bust the extra fat that tends to stick around the abdomen, allowing your torso to attain a more toned and trim appearance while you work that core. It’s also always helpful to work with a nutritional counselor while optimizing your diet.
Our top three “abs of steel” food picks are:
Eggs are many an athlete’s best friend. They have an ideal amino acid balance and contain choline, a nutrient thought to raise metabolism levels and even shut down certain genes that are responsible for the retention of fat in the stomach. They are also loaded with protein and will keep you full for ages! Some of our coaches like to keep them hard-boiled and peeled in the fridge, so they’re ready to snack on at a moment’s notice.
Almonds are delicious raw or toasted, sweet or salty, blended into nut butter, soaked into vegan-friendly “milk,” or just enjoyed whole. They’re fortifying and filling, and we think they are the perfect food.
Fun fact: almonds also can block the calories that you consume. They’re also loaded with magnesium, which helps strengthen those muscles you’re working on.
Try throwing some toasted almonds into your next salad, use them instead of pine nuts in pesto, or even toss them into a veggie stir fry for a delicate and tasty crunch.
- Green Veggies
Where would we be without our veggies? The fiber in green vegetables like kale, spinach, or broccoli will aid your digestion. They’re also chock-full of calcium, which can enhance your muscles and energy levels during heavy training sessions.
These days, one of our favorite uses for broccoli is to roast them until slightly crispy. Try serving that with romesco sauce for dipping—it has almonds in it!
Where Can I Try a Strong Core Workout in Boise?
Building core strength is crucial for athletes— and at Jack City Fitness, we’re here to help make it happen for you. Our team of dedicated coaches and trainers are here to help you pick, perform, and perfect the best strong core workout for YOUR needs. Call (208) 999-1111 today to get in touch with our team—we’ll invite you to our Boise facility for a FREE fitness consultation and gym tour. Once you’re signed up to be a Jack City partner, you’ll have immediate 24/7 access to our entire fitness center, including our famous classes! We even offer custom training to ensure that every partner’s needs are met—we want your inner elite athlete to come out!