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The Best Exercises to Build Core MusclesYour core is probably the most important set of muscles in your body. Not only do they keep you upright, but they protect your spine at its most sensitive part -- the lumbar and sacral sections. A strong core will give you that six pack, those sleek waist muscles, and the strong back that you want. Here are the 5 best exercises to build core muscles:
Plank HoldIf you have back problems and want to avoid complex movements that can risk injury, you should do this exercise. In fact, anyone who is new to the world of core workouts should incorporate this simple, safe exercise into their routines. The most important thing to remember is to breathe through this exercise. You're going to be tempted to hold your breath as you're staying in plank on your hands or elbows, but that will tire your muscles out faster. Breathe, and it will be a bit easier.
Superman/BananaThis is an exercise courtesy of the P90X program, and it's a great one to engage the entire core. The Superman exercise will work the back muscles, the Banana exercise will work the abs, and turning back and forth will give your sides a great workout. Don't try to keep up with a clock as you try and switch from your back to your stomach, but start the count from when you are in the correct position. It's a tough exercise that will push your muscles to their limits, but it's guaranteed to build those strong core muscles you need.
Side PlankThis is another great exercise for those that prefer static core exercises over dynamic ones. While it won't yield the same results in terms of size, it will give your core muscles endurance -- which is actually more important when it comes to your core strength. If you want to make it a bit more difficult, you can raise your top leg into the air, push yourself up onto your hands, or even bring your top knee into your chest. You'll build great oblique muscles, and you're core will be greatly strengthened overall.
For a great workout for both your core and your upper body, you can't beat the Warrior Pushup. Your chest, triceps, and shoulders will be engaged for the pushup, and your core has to work hard for both the pushup and the reach. It is a very challenging exercise, so take it slowly. Focus on doing the pushups, and slowly reach up into the air as high as you can. Really feel that stretch, and engage your core. Don't let your hips dip, but tuck in your stomach and make your trunk as solid as possible to get the most from this tough exercise.
Spiderman Plank CrunchThis is definitely not an exercise for beginners, but it is guaranteed to build strong side, back, and stomach muscles. It will help to strengthen your arms and core as well, and you'll find that your entire body will be much stronger once you can do even just 15 reps of this workout. Take your time with this one, as you'll be engaging your core muscles -- usually the weakest muscles, and the ones most prone to injury. Focus on doing each exercise properly, and get it right. That's the best way to avoid injuring yourself with this tough workout. Remember:
- For strength gain, do 4 to 6 reps per set.
- For general fitness, do 12 to 15 reps per set.
- For endurance and weight loss, do 20 to 25 reps per set.