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4 Exercises to Increase Your Core Strength

A strong core is crucial to reducing low back pain and improving almost every other aspect of your workout. Each of these four exercises work different parts of your abdominal muscles, giving you increased core strength and improvement in your whole-body movements.

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Do you want to feel stronger and move without pain? Core strength is key to doing this.

Almost every motion in your body begins from the core, the center of your body, and moves outward through your limbs. Weakness in your core will negatively impact your ability to move without restrictions and pain. Lack of strength in your core can also lead to poor posture and cause low back pain.

Strengthening your core involves more than simply doing crunches.

4 Exercises to Strengthen Your Core

1. Plank: There are several variations of the plank, and it is excellent for all-over core strengthening. To begin, get into a basic push up position, then bend elbows and rest your weight on your forearms. Maintain a straight line through the length of your body by contracting your abs, keeping your belly up and rear-end down. Allow your weight to push your heels back while staying on your toes. Hold this position for 30 seconds to begin, increasing your time as you get stronger. To make this more difficult, raise up on your hands or elevate your feet on a block, ball, or bench. Planks can also be done sideways, by turning onto one forearm and the side of one foot. Be sure to keep your body straight, with hips, belly, and shoulders lined up.

2. Back Extensions:
Lie face down on the floor with your arms straight out above your head. Contract your muscles along the back of your body, lifting arms and legs off the floor as if you are flying like Superman and hold for about 5-10 seconds. Release and do again for 10 repetitions.

3. Russian Twist:
Sit on the floor with your knees bent, feet in front of you. Lean back to about a 45-degree angle and twist to tap the floor on the left, then right for 1 repetition of the Russian Twist (do 10 repetitions). To add more challenge, hold a weight or weighted ball, tapping it side to side with each repetition. To make this even more challenging, lift your feet slightly off the floor and balance yourself while doing your 10 repetitions.

4. Reverse Crunch:
The reverse crunch works those hard to tone lower abdominal muscles. Lie on your back, with your arms on the floor by your sides. Lift legs so knees are straight up, feet slightly out. Contract your lower abdomen, lifting your feet toward the ceiling and your rear-end off the floor. Repeat for a count of 10 repetitions. To give yourself more of a challenge, do reverse crunches on an inclined bench, or you can do hanging leg raises by hanging from a safe bar, then lifting your knees to your chest either one at a time or both at the same time.

HHP. (n.d.). The real-world benefits of strengthening your core. Harvard Health Publishing. Retrieved on 11/3/17 from

Mayo Clinic. (2017). Slide show: Exercises to improve your core strength. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved on 11/3/17 from

Women’s Health. (2010). The women’s health big book of exercises. New York, NY: Rodale, Inc.

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