Building core strength can help you in any sport. It's even beneficial in your everyday activities. Core strength improves your balance and can help you maintain your posture while you run or when you get tired midway through a workout. Building your core can improve your performance in whatever activities you enjoy, whether you're a high school athlete hoping to earn a college scholarship or a runner who loves competing in local 5Ks.
What Muscles Are Part of Your Core?
Your core is made up of several groups of muscles that stabilize the spine and pelvis, including:
External abdominal oblique.
Internal abdominal oblique.
Benefits of Core Strength
Many people like to focus on their core to tone their ab muscles. They may want to achieve the mythic six-pack or just feel more confident in a bathing suit. But the benefits of working your core go well beyond aesthetics.
Your core muscles help your hips, lower back and pelvis work with your abdomen to keep your body steady. You can improve your balance when you strengthen your core muscles. Strong core muscles help you do many things better, such as swinging a golf club or keeping your body upright during a run.
If you have weak core muscles, you may get injured or suffer from lower back pain. A stronger core has long been correlated to fewer back problems. Top-tier athletes know that having a stronger core can help them with endurance and recovery, too. The core helps to power you through so many activities that strengthening it benefits your entire body.
4 of the Best Exercises for Your Core Muscles
Start by trying these four exercises to strengthen your core:
Plank: Assume a pushup position. Instead of lowering your body, stay balanced on your hands and feet with your arms straight. Start by holding for 15 seconds and work up to 90 seconds or more.
Bridge: Assume a sit-up position. Push your butt into the air, so that your body forms a "bridge" between your shoulders and your feet. Hold for 15 seconds. Then lift and lower your butt 10 times, doing another static hold when you finish.
Crunches: Lay on your back and lift your legs with the knees bent at 90 degrees, as if you are sitting in a chair. Put your arms behind your head and bring your head toward your chest. Repeat 15 to 20 times.
Mountain climbers: Assume a pushup position. Drive your left leg toward your right shoulder, then return to the pushup position. Repeat on the other side. Repeat for 30 seconds. Increase the intensity by moving faster.