Core workouts are an essential part of any workout routine. While people often focus on working out other parts of their body like their arms and legs, their core is often neglected, which is causing them to miss out on some important benefits.
What Is Your Core?
People often think that their core just refers to their abdominal muscles, but your core is so much more than that. Rather, your core includes the front, back, and sides of your midsection. Your core includes the rectus abdominis that forms that six-pack you always wanted, the erector spinae that allows you to bend backward, your oblique muscles that allow you to twist, your pelvic floor muscles, and your lower-back muscles. Basically, all the muscles that give you strength in your hips, abdomen, lower back, and pelvis make up the area we call the core.
Top 10 Core Workouts For Women
Women often struggle with pain and lack of strength in their core area. While many women focus most on their lower abdominals and making their stomach appear flat, it is extremely important for women to focus on their hips and pelvic floor -- especially if you’ve ever given birth.
While there are many awesome core workouts out there, these 10 core workouts for women are fantastic and can be done from the comfort of your own home.
For this core workout, you need to start by lying flat on the ground. Make sure that your chest is open with your shoulders to the ground. Place both your hands by your side with your hands facing the floor. Bend your knees and plant your feet in a comfortable, stable position.
Make sure your hips are square and your feet are shoulder width apart. Push with your heels until your hips and lower back are off the floor. Your back should remain straight during this process, and your hips should be high in the air. If your hips start to sag either lift them up and straighten your body or slowly lower yourself back down. Hold this position for approximately thirty seconds to a minute before lowering yourself all the way down.
When you do this core workout, make sure to engage your abs, pelvic floor, and glutes. This workout is also great for your lower back and will help improve your posture.
Most likely, you’ve been subjected to planks in the past since they are a gym class favorite. When done correctly, planks are great for strengthening your inner core. There are two main variations of the standard plank: the forearm plank and the straight arm plank.
For the most focus on your abs, you should do the forearm plank. For this exercise, start by lying on the floor with your forearms flat on the ground. Make sure your arms are shoulder width apart with your elbows directly under your shoulders. Your hands can either be flat on the ground, curled into a fist, or folded together.
From this position, lift your upper body and legs off the floor with only your toes and forearms remaining on the ground. Engage you entire core while you lift and while you continue to hold this position for as long as you can. Stare straight at the ground in front of you to avoid any strain. Make sure your body is in a straight line and that no part of your body is sagging or lifted too high in the air.
Side planks are great for working out your oblique muscles, which are often overlooked. This exercise also focuses on the quadratus lumborum, which can help minimize any back pain you might have.
Start by lying on your side with both of your legs straight and one on top of the other. Prop one arm with your forearm on the floor, and rest your other arm on your hip or thigh. Slowly lift your whole body off the floor until you form a straight, diagonal line. Engage your core, especially your oblique muscles, and don’t let your hips sag to the floor.
Try holding this position as long as you possibly can. It will be a lot harder than the forearm plank, but it’s worth the effort. When finished, switch sides and repeat the process on the other side. Attempt to hold the plank for the same amount of time on both sides.
The reverse crunch helps you better your posture and strengthen your lower back, hips, and spine. This exercise is much more beneficial to you than the typical crunch, which requires you to bend your upper body forward.
Start the exercise by lying on your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor, and arms by your side facing downwards. Engage your abdominal muscles and move your legs up off the floor until they make a 90-degree angle. Your back should lie flat on the ground the whole time.
Hold this position for a few seconds and then slowly lower your feet back to the ground. Don’t allow yourself to do the movement without actively tightening your core muscles.
Boat pose is great for strengthening both your abdominal and low back muscles simultaneously. It also strengthens the hip flexors. Women who are pregnant or on their menstrual cycle should skip this pose.
Start by sitting on the ground with your knees bent and hands on the floor. Allow yourself to lean back just a little bit and then lift your legs into a V. You can either keep your legs straight with your toes pointed toward you or bend your knees with your toes pointed straight up. Your hands should either be flexed at your side, resting on your leg, or on the floor behind you.Focus on your balance and attempt to keep your spine as long and straight as possible. Do whichever variation of this pose you are most comfortable with, and remember to engage your core.
To work out your oblique muscles, start by lying with your back flat on the floor. Keep your legs straight in front of you, and place your hands behind your head. Slightly raise both of your legs and your head, and don’t let them touch the floor again until the set is over.Raise your left knee and lift it at a 90-degree angle while simultaneously twisting your right elbow into your leg until they touch. Then return to the starting position and do the same process on the other side for at least 15 reps.
This workout also targets your abdominal and oblique muscles. Once again, start the position lying on your back. Spread your arms out from your sides, and bend your knees. Look straight in front of you and engage your core as you slowly rotate your hips to the left and let your legs fall to your side until they hover just above the floor.
Tighten your muscles again as you lift your legs up into the starting position and rotate to the other side. Make sure to move slowly and engage your muscles or this workout won’t work your core effectively.
Lying Lateral Leg Raises
This exercise focuses on your hip abductors and helps support your pelvis and lower back. Start by lying on your right side with one leg stacked on top of the other. Either hold your head up with your right hand or lay your arm down flat behind your head. Place your left hand on your hip or palm down on the floor in front of you.Slowly lift your top leg as high up as you can, hold it, then bring it back down for about 15 reps. Switch sides and repeat the process for about 15 more reps.
This workout is great for lower back pain and for strengthening your back and hips. You simply lay down on your stomach with your legs flat behind you and arms extended in front. Lift up both your legs and arms, allowing your back to arch. Look down at the floor to avoid hurting your neck, and hold the position for a few seconds. Return to the starting position and repeat.
This workout targets your lower abs and helps fight the fat in your lower pouch. Lie on your back with your head on the ground and your palms facing down by your side or underneath your glutes. Point your toes and slightly lift both legs off the ground. Alternate between kicking each leg up and down for 20 reps.
Why Should You Exercise Your Core?
Core muscles are essential in almost everything you do. If you lack balance or stability, strengthening your core will help strengthen muscles that keep you balanced. These exercises will help if you struggle with good posture or back pain. With a stronger core, you will be less likely to get injured during physical activity, and everyday activities will be easier to do. Plus, your abs will look great too. For a healthy spine and balanced body, you need to spend time working out your core.