What daily workout routine is best for your core muscles is a really simple question, yet difficult all at once. First, I’d not recommend you do the same workout every day, ever. It doesn’t allow for adequate recovery and will lead to injury.
With that in mind, I think the REAL question being asked is “what can I do to strengthen my core as much as possible?” I’ll happily give you my top 3 exercises and how to do them, but without understanding the job of your core and what makes it work, it will just seem like I’m throwing random exercises at you.
Your core’s job is keeping you upright and stable so you can survive. In nature, a human that can’t be upright will die. Your core is a set of muscles in the middle of your body that allow you to go from any type of bent position to an upright position.
These muscles are both in the front and back of your body and work really hard to keep you up. Just like any muscle you have to challenge them for them to get stronger. Any activity that requires you to fight to keep yourself upright or stable will do a good job of providing the challenge you need.
My go to exercises for strengthening the core may seem unorthodox, but boy do they work! (the Overhead Squat, the Hollow Body Hold, and the Candlestick)
The first is the overhead squat. This one is amazing because it causes a war between the front core muscles and back core muscles. Who will do their job best to keep you up? To do the overhead squat, follow these five steps:
- Stand with feet at least shoulder width apart, toes pointed slightly out.
- Grip the barbell/PVC pipe/broomstick, etc. (palms facing you) with the hands wider than shoulder width from each other
- Hold the bar overhead. The bar should be positioned slightly behind the head with the arms fully extended overhead (this is the starting position)
- Lower the weight by sending your hips back, push your knees apart, and act as if you’re sitting in a chair until your hips are below your knees. Keep your chest up as if you have a S for Superman on your shirt and you want the world to see it.
- Return to the starting position by pushing through your heels, squeezing your butt, and standing back up with the bar overhead. Repeat for required reps
The second one is the hollow body hold. This one is great because you’re going to use all of your front core muscles as gravity pulls down on your body. No matter how fit you become, these will always be a staple for core strength and stability.
- Lie down flat on your back and squeeze your belly button to the ground. The arms and legs should be held straight out from the body with hands and toes pointed.
- Slowly raise shoulders and legs from the ground. The arms and head should be raised along with the shoulders. The lower back must remain in contact with the floor.
- The goal is to find the lowest position that you can hold the arms and legs, without them touching the floor and without breaking lower back contact (the point at which the lower back begins to arch from the ground).
My third and final recommended core exercise is the candlestick. This is a challenging exercise as it requires you to keep your body upright while you’re upside down.
- Start by lying on your back with your arms by your sides, legs out straight.
- Begin by rolling back onto your shoulders, raise your legs towards the sky, and press your hands into the ground at your sides.
- Squeeze your butt and belly button as you try to remain upright (upside down).
Combining these three in a single workout would be incredibly challenging and definitely a great way to strengthen the core. A simple way to bring these power players together would look something like this:
Overhead Squat: 3 sets of 12 repetitions at a weight that challenges you to keep your chest up. Rest 1 minute between sets.
Hollow Body Hold: 5 sets of 20 seconds with a 20 second rest between sets.
Candlestick: 5 sets of 20 seconds with a 20 second rest between sets.
If you give this work out a try, I’d love your feedback! Were you challenged? What was the hardest part? Feel free to post your comments on our blog, FaceBook, or Instagram. Too public? Shoot me an email at [email protected].