There's a lot of buzz in the fitness world about having core strength. But what exactly does a core workout do for you? And how can you accomplish this without damaging your back, one of the most vulnerable parts of your body?
Here are some tips and exercises to help keep your core strong—and the rest of your body feeling healthy.
More: Quick Core-Training Tips for Athletes
The Role of the Core
Working your body's core is important—especially if you work out regularly and want to reap the full benefits that a strong core can offer you, such as better balance and stability. The purpose of a core workout is to strengthen the muscles and connective tissues that support the spine.
To make sure that you are reaping the benefits of a core workout, it is crucial you incorporate all of the muscles in your core area during the exercise, not just one specific group such as the abdominals.
Ironically, the one exercise most people actually do, sit-ups or crunches, are actually the least productive core workout of all, according to the American College of Sports Medicine.
More: 4 Exercises to Build an Iron Core
Is Your Core in Shape?
Not sure what level your core strength is at? The basic yoga move called the plank is a great way to test your current core strength—and develop it at the same time.
How to do the plank:
- Assume the usual push-up position.
- Bend your arms so that your elbows are resting on the floor.
- Keep your body in one straight line and hold for as long as possible.
- Less than 30 seconds? You just may need to work on building your core.
More: 2 Plank Variations to Build a Strong Core