Building the strength and stability in our core is more than just about having washboard abs! The “core” extends beyond our abdominal muscles and includes all of the major muscle groups from our trapezius muscles all the way down to the pelvic floor, basically excluding our arms and legs. Stabilizing the core is the first step into building strength. It’s been observed in many studies that athletes with greater stability and strength in their core are less likely to get injured.
Core strength does not only allow us to prevent injury, but it also allows us to build strength in other areas of CrossFit such as weightlifting or gymnastics. Further, it allows us to do daily tasks, which we may often take for granted, without a second thought. An individual who may lack core strength may experience something as simple as standing for an extended period of time, or bending down to pick an object off the floor as a burdensome or painful task. Again, building core strength is essential not just for sport performance, but also for lifelong health and injury prevention.
Here are some starting points for building up core stability and strength with minimal or no equipment:
Hollow body hold: Squeeze through the abdomen to raise shoulders and toes about 6 inches off of the ground. Hands can be used to support the hold, or can be placed by our ears. Maintain the hollow body by assuring the lower back is in contact with the floor.
Arch up: Laying on your stomach, extend up through the lower back and squeeze glutes. Arms are up by the ears like Superman.
Plank hold: Create a straight line with your legs and core as you hold your body weight over the ground. Squeeze all your muscles!
Forward Leaning Rest: Start in a plank and push forward on your toes and over your shoulders. There is a backwards angle created with your shoulders and wrists. Push away from the ground using your shoulders.
Bird dog: Starting on hands and knees, extend the opposite arm and opposite leg away from the core, then bring the elbow to the knee. Try to avoid overarching the spine when extending limbs. Repeat on other side to prevent imbalances.
Deadbug: Laying flat on the floor, with no space between the lower back and the ground, raise legs straight up into the ceiling or to 90 degrees. Extend one leg down to the floor at a time while maintaining that “FLAT” back on the floor. Bring leg back up to starting position before extending the other. Arms can be placed overhead or by our ears.
Tuck/L-Sit hang: Hang from a pull up bar and maintaining the “hollow body” position, raise knees or legs up into a tuck position or an L position. Think about pressing down on the pull up bar to engage shoulders and maintain a static position.
See a coach at CFDP if you have questions about core strengthening! We do a lot of this in class, but can also be great accessory work to the class programming.
If you are experiencing any pain or are seeking medical attention, please contact a medical doctor for assistance.