Simple exercises to boost your core strength and flatten your stomach

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Fitness First personal trainer, AJ Perera, reveals some tricks of the trade...

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We all want Keira Knightley style washboard abs but this isn't the only reason why you should be focussing on toning and strengthening your core muscles.

According to Fitness First trainer, AJ Perera, we all need to get a reality check when it comes to our core body fitness. Although the core is commonly thought of as the abdominal stomach muscles, it actually comprises all of the muscle groups that stabilize the spine, pelvis and stomach. So there's a lot more to work out!

Because of the location of these muscles, we use them every time we move. From simple movements like walking, running, sitting, getting up, going down and jumping to tasks like lifting heavy shopping bags. We're reliant on our core to generate energy and facilitate movement.

Therefore having a weak core won't just affect your jeans, it will also affect your overall health. Your movements will be more restricted, you won't have as much power or strength to lift heavy weights, bend down or climb stairs. You could struggle to balance after taking a tumble and find running more tricky because there's nothing to absorb the shock on your joints.

A strong core means full body control, balance and stability, which is something every fitness fanatic should be aiming for.

So, how can we boost our core strength? According to AJ there are a few key exercises that we can all start doing now alongside a regular cardio workout to take a step in the right direction. Take a look at his ideas and let us know what you think below...

1. Start doing planks and side planks today!

Go into plank position (weight on your forearms, toes on the floor, back in a straight line, abdominals pulled tight) and hold that position for minimum 20 seconds up to 3 times (with rests in between) and each week try and add an extra 5 seconds.

Or try lying on your side with your body in a straight line, your elbow under your shoulder and your feet stacked. Keeping tall and tight, raise your hips off the floor and hold the position. Do not let your hips drop and squeeze your glutes to keep your hips forward and your body in a straight line.

2. Push-ups

Doing push ups is another great way to strengthen abdominal muscles even though they are normally thought of as a total body exercise. If you're a beginner start with your knees on the floor, bum tucked in and your toes raised. Place your hands either side of your chest and try and push the floor away from you, so your upper body rises.

3. More muscle involvement = Better core exercise

In all the exercises above, a lot more muscle groups are involved instead of just the abdominals. This is a good sign of an appropriate core exercise which is why abdominal crunches are not recommended.

What do you think? Leave a comment below to be in with a chance of winning a £100 goodie bag.

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