Im Trying To Gain Muscle Weight Women Will Pilates Help The 3 Best Exercises For Core Strength Training

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The 3 Best Exercises For Core Strength Training

This is a follow-up to a previous article on the benefits of core strength for running performance.

To recap, I covered the main benefits of core strength for runners, such as improved efficiency, better posture, plus improved balance and stability. I also mentioned some activities for improving core strength namely floor exercises, cross training, yoga, pilates and gym training.

In this article I want to quickly mention three of the more effective specific exercises that have been scientifically proven to be the best at building your core.

Before I start, I just want to point out that when most people start an exercise program, they start with easy exercises first with the intention of building up to the more advanced exercises as they get fitter. This will probably work for some, but when I undertake a new exercise program, I prefer to start on the most effective exercise (which is usually the hardest) and work up to doing more reps over time.

However, I feel that it is too easy to get complacent with light weight exercises and often wonder if I am not actually getting any benefit from it. So unless the hurdles are completely and utterly beyond me, I’d rather start with the advanced exercises first, knowing that I’ll get the maximum return on my time and effort.

I admit that I probably won’t do many reps when I start, but that’s okay because I’m just getting started.

If I can only manage 5, it doesn’t matter. Next time I’ll try for 8. Then the time after that I’ll shoot for 10 and so on until I get better with the particular activity.

I also want to say that I am not a fitness instructor and although this has worked for me, this is just my personal way of doing things. While I certainly advocate starting with the hardest exercises possible, I also want to make it clear that this is not the same as pushing yourself to extreme limits when you first start. I always start at a very basic level building up slowly and gradually.

From years of personal experience, I’ve learned that when it comes to fitness, erring on the side of conservatism is usually the best policy.

So what are the best types of exercises for core strength?

Abdominal exercises are scientifically measured using a technique called electromyography (EMG) and assessed relative to the traditional crunch – which is, by the way, far from the best form of abdominal exercise, contrary to its popularity.

You should be aware that some exercises work on the rectus abdominus or your six-pack for those who have no idea what that is. Others work on your obliques which are more to the side of the rectus abdominus. It is important to focus on both areas.

The Three Best Abdominal/Core Strength Exercises

Bicycle Crunch

Bicycle Crunches top the list of the most effective abdominal exercises. To perform this exercise, lie flat on your back as if you were going to do a crunch, place your hands behind your head for support, bend your knees 90 degrees, then raise your left knee while simultaneously bringing your right elbow to your left knee , then alternate: right knee to left elbow, left knee to right elbow and over and over. The exercise should resemble a paddling movement.

The Bicycle crunch is extremely effective for your rectus abdominus as well as the obliques.

It rates 248% and 290% better than a traditional crunch respectively.

Another advantage of the Bicycle Crunch is that it can be done without expensive gym equipment (or gym membership).

Hanging knees or captain’s chair exercise

You will most likely have to perform this exercise in a gym as it requires you to hang onto something with your legs off the ground.

The standard gym equipment for this is called a power tower, also known as a knee raise machine or knee raise station and sometimes referred to as a captain’s chair.

You will also need good upper body strength. If you hang, you start the exercise by bringing your knees to your chest without using momentum and keeping the upper body straight, hold for a second, then lower your legs again.

The Captain’s Chair Exercise is 212% better than a traditional crunch for your recuts abdominus and 310% better for your obliques than a traditional crunch.

Abdominal Crunch on an exercise ball

You will find an exercise ball in a gym, or if you can buy one for yourself, an excellent investment I say! First, sit on your ball (the practice ball) in a comfortable position. Slide your body so you are on top, the ball should be somewhere between butt and top. The closer the ball is to the butt, the harder the effort. Now perform a regular crunch – keeping your hips and lower body still, “crunch” forward and lift your shoulder blades off the ball. Hold for 1 second and slowly lower back to the starting position.

The abdominal crunch on an exercise ball is 139% more effective than a traditional crunch for your rectus abdominus muscles and 147% more effective for your obliques.

I have provided links in my signature to demonstrations of these exercises on YouTube, I am not affiliated with the authors of these videos and have only included them for demonstration purposes.

The purpose of this article is to offer these exercises for improving your core strength. This in itself is fine, but does not take into account the need for a training program tailored to your individual needs. If you​​​​​​are not sure about your overall program, you should discuss your needs with your coach or a personal fitness instructor.

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