If you want to build your core strength, I’ve got some good news! Endless sit-ups aren’t the answer.
I know, the good ole sit-up has been the go-to core exercise since forever but it’s time to burst the sit-up bubble.
Because if you truly want to strengthen your core (which you SHOULD and here’s why), I’ve got a much more effective approach to share with you.
How to build core strength from nothing
Learn to breathe
We all breathe, but breathing properly is a skill many of us have forgotten. Take a moment to focus on your breathing. Are you breathing deeply or is your breathing quite shallow? Did your shoulders rise up as you inhaled? This is a telltale sign that your breathing technique could do with some work.
It’s a function we do automatically, so of course, we’re not thinking too hard about it. But, shallow breathing can actually make you slouch and create tension in your body. When you’re not breathing correctly, you lose the ability to connect to your core.
In contrast, when you breathe in deeply, your torso expands and lengthens, meaning you can strengthen your core just by inhaling and exhaling properly. So, while breathing might seem like a boring place to start, it’s an easy and important way to start building core strength. If you want some breathing exercises to follow, you can download our free guide here.
Get your body and your mind on the same page
How often have you heard a trainer yell at you to engage your core? I know, right? Easier said than done. But becoming consciously aware of your core muscles and being able to intentionally engage them is important.
Why? Because as we age, we all start to lose our basic motor skills. When we were babies, crawling around and learning how to walk, we had to practice movements that would develop our core so we could stand.
We’d roll, sit up, pivot, plank, deep squat and even do superman holds. As adults, we find these movements difficult. They were once natural, and now we have to retrain our cores to achieve them again.
In order to retrain these muscles, we need to form a mind-muscle connection. If you’re looking for some pointers for building your mind-muscle connection, you can download our free guide here.
Pay attention to your posture
Have you ever been told you have bad posture? It might’ve made you stand straighter and roll your shoulders back. But correcting your posture involves a bit more than this.
Bad posture can cause back pain, neck tension, poor circulation and digestion, impaired lung function, headaches, jaw pain, spinal dysfunction, joint degeneration, rounded shoulders and a pot belly – just to name a few less than ideal outcomes.
Looking at the diagram below, you can see on the left-hand side is a pelvis in a neutral position. On the right-hand side is a pelvis tilted forward.
Notice how the back is curved and the abdomen is pressed forwards to compensate? This is a common form of bad posture I see all the time in women.
Your body will always try to stabilise itself somehow, so you might also have toes lifting off the floor when you stand or hyperextended knees that are pressed backwards. This causes the pelvis to tilt forwards, which in turn causes the ribs to flare out. Next, your shoulders and neck will round forward and your head position will shift forward, causing neck pain.
See how bad posture creates a knock-on effect?
That’s why I recommend having your posture assessed so you can work on building the strength you need in order to correct it.
By taking these simple steps, you can start to reprogram your body, get into healthier habits, and strengthen your core for the long term.