Core strength is crucial for even the most basic activities. We speak to Fitness Workz trainer Aidid Haidil to understand why it matters and find out simple exercises to improve core strength.
TEXT: NICHOLAS JACOB
PHOTOS: HOMETEAMNS, SHUTTERSTOCK
From an improved posture to enhanced stability and balance, as well as a reduced risk of injuries, a strong core provides numerous benefits to our overall health and fitness. Fitness Workz trainer Aidid Haidil says that a strong core is essential.
“The core is involved in most athletic activities and everyday movements, from bending over to tie your shoes, to lifting a heavy object, to running a marathon,” he said.
“A weak core compromises even basic everyday activities such as lifting, bending, and twisting. When your core is weak, these activities can become more difficult and may increase your risk of injury,” he added.
SIMPLE EXERCISES FOR A BETTER CORE
The good news is that strengthening the core can start with these beginner-friendly exercises. The intensity and duration can be adjusted to suit your level of comfort and proficiency.
- Place your forearms on the floor with your elbows directly under your shoulders and your hands facing forward.
- Straighten your legs and feet and hold your body in a straight line. Hold for 15-30 seconds, then release and rest for 10 seconds. Repeat 3-5 times.
- Sit on the floor facing to one side and lean back at 45 degrees. Raise and hold both feet slightly above the ground.
- Raise your knees towards your chest and lower on the opposite side.
- Lie on your back with your legs extended straight up toward the ceiling.
- Slowly lower your legs as far as you can without arching your back, then raise them back up. Aim for 10-15 reps.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and hands behind your head.
- Bring your left elbow across your body toward your right knee, while simultaneously straightening your left leg. Repeat on the other side. Aim for 10-15 reps.
- Start on your hands and knees, with your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips.
- Lift your right arm and left leg straight out and hold for 5-10 seconds, then lower and repeat on the other side. Aim for 5-10 reps on each side.
BENEFITS OF A STRONG CORE
A strong core offers several benefits, like an improved posture. “Strong core muscles help pull the shoulders back and maintain a neutral spine. This leads to better posture and can help prevent back pain,” said Aidid.
It also helps to improve your sense of balance and improves overall body strength. It reduces the risk of falls and makes daily activities easier to perform. It’s also essential for exercise. “Strong core muscles protect the back and other body parts during physical activity, reducing the risk of injuries,” Aidid added.
For athletes, this forms the basis of proper sporting form and technique and helps enhance athletic performance.
A strong core also offers surprising longer term benefits. Said Aidid: “The muscles of the core are closely connected to the diaphragm and the organs of the digestive system. A strong, healthy core can help improve digestion and reduce bloating and abdominal discomfort.”
EXERCISING AFTER A LONG LAYOFF?
If you haven’t been exercising for some time and are getting back into the swing of things, Aidid says it’s important to establish a base level of overall fitness and strength.
Cardiovascular exercises help to improve overall fitness and endurance. This is important for sustaining a workout programme. Strength training exercises that target the major muscle groups – the legs, back, chest, shoulders and arms help build lean muscle mass and improve overall strength and stability.
It’s important to take it slow, says Aidid. “Start with lower resistance or bodyweight exercises and gradually progress to heavier weights and more challenging movements,” he added.
Once a good base fitness level has been established, compound exercises can lead to greater progress. Incorporating these with the help of a qualified instructor can also be more efficient. “Compound strength exercises target several muscle groups at the same time. These often engage and strengthen the core simultaneously, eliminating the need to prioritise core exercises exclusively,” Aidid added.
Get your engines moving with your workout partner! Try out these workouts together over at our Fitness Workz gyms and spice it up with the equipment available.
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