To build a strong core (which includes your hips, back and glutes, BTW), you’ll need to master these six bodyweight exercises that aren’t just planks and crunches.
It’s a common misconception that building a strong core equals endless sets of crunches, sit-ups and planks – there’s more to it than you realise.
“A strong core is your entire trunk and stabilisers too,” shared Anabel Chew, co-founder of WeBarre. “People think six-pack abs equals core strength but your inner core stabilisers have to be strong as well. If anything, those are the core muscles that actually matter, over having the ‘vanity’ six-pack abs.”
So what exercises build a strong core? Read on and find out.
Go for barre classes
Many core workouts target the full lower body, which includes your glute muscles that are essential to developing a strong core. According to Anabel, common barre movements like glute bridge, donkey kicks, ab curls, stability core exercises, pilates mat exercises are all very efficient to building one’s glutes – not to mention those inner thigh burning pliés and passés.
Master the roll-up
Do not overlook small movements like the roll-up as they’re super effective. “Roll-ups have you starting in a supine position, and for you to ‘roll up’, one vetebrae at a time, sequencing through the spine without ‘swinging’ up it involves moving with control, slowly and engaging every bit of core muscles that you’ve got,” shared Anabel.
Crunch with precision
You will need to do crunches but it’s not enough to crunch out 100 and call it a day. When doing them, Samuel Tay, personal trainer from Pure Fitness Ocean Financial Centre, says it pays to keep in mind the following:
- Avoid hinging feet under bars: This tends to activate the hip flexors, more than the abdominal muscles, especially when fatigued and/or core is weak. Thus, rendering the exercise ineffective and creating more tension in the hip flexors.
- Hyperextending the lower back: Rather, learn to pull the navel inwards, towards the spine, tightening the abdominal muscles and keeping the lower back anchored to the ground.
Lift those kettlebells
Bring on beast mode as you perfect your renegade row (plank row) with a suitably weighted kettlebell. According to Samuel, it will target your core hard, and activate your back, lats and glutes.
Start by placing two kettlebells slightly closer than shoulder-width and get into a push-up plank position, holding your hands onto the handles of it. Keep your body straight, squeeze the glutes, pull in the navel towards the spine. Attempt to pull each kettlebell up, one at a time, like a row, while pushing down on the hand and feet. Maintain balance and tighten core at all times, without rotating your upper body.
Do planks, and also side planks
“When it comes to planking, most often only target the front and back, shared Samuel. “Side planks are equally important in building the overall core.
Keep in mind that the perfect plank is one that avoids the hips dropping or raising too high, shoulders positioned above the wrists, glutes squeezed and abdominal muscles tightened by pulling navel towards the spine.
Do ball slams and squats
The medicine ball is back in fashion and ball slams (together with squats) targets your core and abdominals from your shoulders to the hips and legs. Start from a squat stance (shoulder-width apart), with the ball in the centre. Pick up the ball and raise it overhead, raising toes at the same time. Explosively tighten the abs by contracting it and drive your chest down to slam the ball as hard as you can. Retrieve the ball as it bounces up.