How much is too much when it comes to core work? That’s a tricky answer. You’d be hard-pressed to do a workout that doesn’t involve your core in some way. That’s because the core is your body’s powerhouse. Your “core” includes the muscles that lie below your chest and above your knees (abdominals, back, quads and hamstrings). Your core allows you to balance and execute intense cardio and strength movements. Many people tend to focus on just the abs. That’s a mistake!
While you could certainly work on building muscles in your abdominal wall every day, you won’t be able to actually use the muscles in any practical way or stand-up straight if you lack flexibility in your hip flexors and hamstrings and strength in your back. Poor alignment can lead to strength losses throughout your body and decreased fitness.
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Also, traditional crunches and “top down” abdominal work that is executed with the head raised off of the ground is not always the best or most effective way to work the core. It’s best to shake things up! Most people spend their days leaning forward looking at screens or engaged in forward movement. These activities eventually take their toll on the upper back and neck. Compounding that strain with repetitive core exercises that use only upward-oriented ab moves can be counter-productive.
Focus on Your Form and Get the Strong Core You Are Looking For
Instead, working the entire core - not just the abs - involves many different muscles, which means there are numerous exercises from which to choose. Because of this, you run little risk of stressing out joints with repetitive movement if you do core work frequently (even daily) if you moderate your intensity and mix-up the moves. You’ll also decrease the risk of getting bored. That coupled with results might help you stick with your fitness plans.
Try these tips:
- Explore back-lying movements that require you to keep your head on the ground, like reverse crunches and variations on bridges.
- Incorporate ab blasters that are done in traditional plank or side-plank position. Drop your hip to the ground, and then lift back up while in side-plank for mermaids position. Or try plank-ups from the frontal plank position.
- Lie on your stomach, lengthen your abs and work your back, glutes, and legs with variations of the superman move.
Those suggested bodyweight exercises will focus on the abs AND work all core muscles. Consider incorporating equipment like stability balls, the roman chair, Glide discs, medicine balls, a BOSU trainer and more. That will open up even more possibilities to ensure that you’re hitting all the muscles fibers in your core and strengthening your powerhouse so you can move and groove confidently and comfortably in all planes of direction!