Most of us strive for a flat tummy or rock hard abs. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look good on the beach. But there are more important reasons for building strong abdominals and a stable core than looking good in our swimwear.
The core is a central link between your upper and lower body and emcompasses everything that isn’t your limbs. So whether you’re weightlifting in the gym or mopping the floor, every movement is stabilised by your core.
If you’re core isn’t stable, not only does your posture suffer, your flexibility is impaired too. Any weakness and instability in your core prevents your arms and legs functioning to their optimum capacity – sapping power, reducing mobility, and increasing your chance of injury.
Therefore it’s crucial to incorporate core training into your workout routine. This doesn’t mean bashing out hundred of sit-ups (- because you’ll probably hurt your back), but it does mean regularly practising exercises and poses such as plank, hollow body holds, triple down dogs, and twists to build strength, stability and flexibility through your core.
Practice the following three core strength poses two to three times a week alongside your other yoga practice or training.
1. Plank Pose
Plank is a great pose for building stability through your core, strengthening your shoulders and teaching you how to align your spine optimally.
- Begin on your hands and knees with your shoulders aligned directly above your wrists.
- Step your feet back so your legs are straight and you have created one long line from the top of your head back through your heels.
- Squeeze your bum, brace your belly, and push the floor away through your hands.
- Hold for 2 minutes and then release your knees back to the floor.
You can modify the pose by raising your hands on a stable surface to make it easier, or raising your feet to make it more challenging.
Your core is more than just your six-pack. It includes your hip flexors and adductors too – and boat pose is great for building strength and stability in these muscles.
- Begin seated with your legs bent and slowly lift your feet off the floor so you are balancing on your bottom.
- Straighten your legs whilst keeping your spine long.
- Bring your arms so they are parallel to the floor and look to your toes.
- Squeeze your knees together and draw your shoulder blades together and down your spine.
- Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.
You can modify boat pose by keeping your legs bent.
We rarely twist in everyday life but it is essential for the health of the spine and for strengthening the transverse abdominis and other muscles of our core. Twisted Triangle is a great pose to practice this twisting motion in.
- Begin with your legs together and take a big step back with your left foot. Keep your right foot facing forwards and turn your left foot out slightly.
- Place your right hand behind your back and reach your left hand forwards, hinging from the hips, to place your left hand on the inside or outside of your right foot.
- Twist towards the right leg and extend your left hand towards the sky.
- Hod for 5-10 breaths and then repeat on the other side.