Core training is enormously important for, well, anyone. For people who work out a lot, and for people who don’t work out at all, a strong core is essential.
In the case of athletes and exercise freaks, a strong midsection serves a functional purpose. It helps the body adapt to different levels of physical stress and stabilize itself. As an athlete growing up, I was well aware of how important a solid core was, and now as someone who continues to train in and out of the gym, it has not lost its importance. I feel that any strength gains I have seen in certain fundamental exercises such as bench pressing or squatting has only been possible because I make sure I hit my core.
In terms of people who do not do any real exercise, they don’t need a stronger core to help with their squats, obviously, but rather, for their everyday functioning. The most prevalent physical ailment among US adults is back pain. Some sources of back pain come from poor posture, and again, just everyday functioning, whether holding a bag of groceries or picking up their child. A stronger core defrays the stress placed directly on the back, which is why it is so important.
One of my favorite things for core strengthening is the Swiss ball, or exercise ball. There are so many exercises that you can do with this simple accessory. There are the standard crunches that you can do that increase your range of motion, hitting your upper abs even harder, but there are also a whole lot more things you can do.
Some simple exercises that you can do with the exercise ball for your core are bridges. These are great for people beginning, and you can do more variations as your core strengthens. For example, you put your body into a plank position, only your feet are on the of the ball, while making sure your abs and back are tight and your body is straight. Once you can do this easily, a variation would be to have your hands also on an exercise ball, so your body acts as a bridge between the two.
One of my most favorite core exercises to do with the exercise ball is the jackknife. You position your body as you would in a bridge with only your feet on the ball, then you roll the ball into your body with your feet, then you roll your feet back out. It is sick for your lower abdominals.
Another really advanced core exercise to do with the exercise ball is stand and balance on it. I haven’t been able to do more than get on all fours and balance on it, like I am a frog. Hopefully, one day I’ll be able to do this; it takes a SICK core to be able to get on the ball and balance.
These are just a few things you can do, other than the standard crunch on the exercise ball, that will really work out your core. Watch the following video, though, for some things NOT to do with it.