Strengthening your core is key in supporting your back, maintaining proper form, and contributing to your endurance while performing any sport. Many aren't aware, but the first thing to fatigue during a competition are your abdominal muscles. Building up a stable core is an essential part of becoming a better athlete. Here are some of CoachUp's favorite core exercises that will directly translate to higher endurance and performance.
If these don't satiate your need for more core exercises, grab a download of our top-notch Medicine Ball Workout Guide! From step-by-step instructions to detailed pictures, our guide will have you acing those core workouts in no time!
1. Basic Plank
Rest your elbows on the floor beneath your shoulders while raising yourself up on your toes. Keep your forearms parallel to each other. Your back must remain flat, do not stick your rear up into the air, and do not sag your tummy! Once any of this begins to occur, the plank becomes less effective.
Holding the plank while not in proper form does you no good. So, if you’re attempting to do a one minute plank and you feel your stomach sagging and lower back hurting around forty-five seconds, stop. Keep your abdominal muscles contracted throughout the entire exercise. If you need to modify, then carry out the above steps on your knees.
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2. Side Plank
Lie on your side supporting your body with your right or left elbow -- it should rest directly below your shoulder. Keep your back and legs straight! You can rest your feet on top of each other or one in front of the other. If you want to challenge yourself even more, raise your arm that isn’t supporting your upper body straight up in the air in line with your body, but don’t let your hips sag. You can also do this with your outside leg. Raise it up into the air, keeping it in line with your bottom leg and engaging your glutes. Again, as soon as proper form collapses, you should stop the exercise as it becomes not nearly as effective. For side planks, hold for thirty seconds a side and work your way up.
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3. Swiss Ball Jack-Knife
Get into a plank position with your shins on a stability ball -- remember to keep that back straight throughout the entire exercise! Roll the ball toward your arms by bringing your knees to your chest. Then return to the starting position. The challenge is keeping your back straight! Keep your core tight and focused with falling.
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4. Swiss Ball Mountain Climber
Place your hands on a medicine or stability ball as if you're preparing to do a push-up. Keep your back straight as always and lift your left foot off the ground and bring your knees up to your chest. Maintaining stability during this exercise is challenging, but the more you challenge your stability, the more you're strengthening your core!
Photo by: www.womenshealth.com
5. Russian Twist with Weight
Sit on the floor with your knees slightly bent and your heels about six inches off the floor. Lean back so your torso is at a 45 degree angle, keeping that back straight, not hunched over and your core engaged. You may use a weighted ball, plate, or dumbbell. Hold out your arms straight and twist your torso, moving the weight in your hands by doing so repeatedly to your left and right. Keep your legs as still as possible while doing this by intensely engaging your core.
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(Related: Read about the importance of stretching your hip flexors here.)
Many novice athletes or outside onlookers make the mistake of believing that you don't need to be particularly strong or well-versed in all areas of the body. However, that couldn't be further from the truth! It goes hand-in-hand with your endurance, desire, and leg strength, but developing your core muscles is so undeniably key, but criminally underrated. So, if you're looking to elevate your athletic abilities, a good place to start may not even be on the field or court -- but, instead, the gym!
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