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How to Strengthen your Core Muscles

12th March 2021


The core muscles, located deep in the trunk include the Transverse abdominis, internal and external obliques, rectus abdominis, erector spinae and the pelvic floor muscles. These are muscles surrounding the stomach and back. It is important to remember that there is much more to the core than just your abs!


Core exercises are great for:

  • Improving balance and stability
  • Stabilising the trunk
  • Promoting good posture
  • Improving muscle coordination
  • Reducing back pain
  • Protect the spinal cord
  • Helping us stand and bend


However, many people tend to focus on targeting the abdominal muscles though crunches and exercises to ‘feel the burn’ and neglect the other surrounding muscles. These exercises can cause the pelvis to tilt anteriorly putting stress on the lower back muscles and hip flexors.


I wrote this blog to share some of the best ways to target your core muscles during your workout.


What is the best way to strengthen my core muscles? 


The core muscles are similar to any other muscle in your body so in order to work them focus on quality rather than quality. Perform exercises with control and good form, allow rest periods in-between exercises and vary the exercise to ensure you are targeting multiple muscle groups and avoid hitting a plateau.


Instead of targeting your core through isolated abdominal exercises (e.g. crunches, sit ups etc.), the best thing you can do to improve abdominal strength and muscle tone is to get these muscles engaging during your whole workout:


How can I engage my core during my workout?


Here are some tips and exercises to help you practice engaging your core muscles. The more you practice, the more you will feel them engage.


  • Standing in the anatomical position

Muscles targeted: Full body.

Why should I practice: Having a sedentary lifestyle can lead to the body becoming lazy and muscles will take short cuts. Shoulders become rounded, abdominal muscles become lazy and back muscles can be overworked causing exaggerated curvature. In addition to affecting your posture, this can cause back and hip pain. Practicing the anatomical position can help align the spine and engage the muscles that support this good posture.

How to do it: Stand up straight with your back against a wall, gently tilt your pelvis so you push your lower back into the wall. Keep your palms facing forward to open up the chest. Keep your legs straight and your feet hip width apart, slightly turned outwards.


  • 4 point tummy vacuum

Muscles targeted: Core muscles (including stomach, back diaphragm and pelvic floor).

Why should I practice: Important for promoting neutral spine alignment, encouraging good breathing and engaging the stomach and back muscles creating a strong core.

How to do it: On all fours, take a deep breath in whilst letting your stomach and the abdominal wall relax, lowering to the floor. Then slowly exhale whilst drawing your belly button into your spine, engaging the abdominal muscles. 


  • Bird-dog

 Muscles targeted: Core muscles (lower back, stomach, pelvic floor), glutes and hamstrings.

Why should I practice: Important for core muscle control as well as engaging your arms and leg muscles?

How to do it: On all fours, opposite arm and leg extends away from the body. Keep your back flat and your belly button drawn in. Aim to bring your arms and legs in to touch without arching your back.


  • Pelvic tilt bridge

Muscles targeted: Core muscles (lower back, stomach, pelvic floor), glutes and hamstrings.

Why should I practice: Practicing the pelvic tilt helps strengthen your abdominal muscles and stretches the muscles in the lower back. It will also help get your spine in the correct neutral position. Lifting your hips off the floor will strengthen your hamstrings and gluteus muscles which is vital for promoting glute activation.

How to do it: Lie flat on your back with your legs bent and your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Inhale to prepare. Exhale, gently rolling your lower back into the floor whilst drawing your belly button in to your spine. Slowly lift your tail bone up off the floor and continue to peel your spine off the mat, one vertebrae at a time until your body and thighs form a straight line. Inhale and hold the bridge (you could have a go lifting one leg off the floor). Exhale and lower your back to the floor, rolling down one vertebrae at a time starting with the top of the spine, with your tail bone being. The last thing to touch the floor. Finish relaxed in a neutral position before repeating the movement again.


Try out this 5 minute core workout!


For more information on exercises to strengthen your core muscles click here to sign up for the Bounce Back Health Guide or email to find out more about receiving exercise support.


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