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Last Updated on January 21, 2021

8 Core Workouts You Can Easily Do At Home

8 Core Workouts You Can Easily Do At Home

Other than having great toned abdominals that look good on the beach, having a strong core helps prevent injuries, as most movement starts at the centre and moves outwards. This means that if you have a strong core, it will ensure your general movements are strong and pain-free. A strong core helps to relieve back pain, as this pain is usually caused by a weak core.

Having a strong core will also help protect your organs since your core muscles surround these organs along with your nervous system. Strong muscles will allow vital organs, such as the heart, to work to their full capacity.

Core is important when it comes to posture. Having a strong core will allow you to stand, sit, walk, and run with the muscle support needed to maintain good posture and prevent back pain or difficulties.

With all these points in mind, here are 8 great core exercises that you can follow to get yourself on the road to a much-needed optimal core.

If you want to know more about weight loss, you can’t miss the following article that provides all useful tips you need:

Weight Loss Plan And Program: Create Your Own One

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1. Plank

One of the best core exercises out there, the plank concentrates on the muscles running all the way through your body.

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    image via popsugar.com
    1. Lie on your front and gently raise your body onto your elbows, making sure elbows are shoulder-width apart.
    2. Slowly raise yourself onto your tip toes and hold.
    3. Beginner: Try holding a plank for as long as possible. Aim for 30 seconds to a minute and increase this over each workout.
    4. Advanced: Once you’ve mastered a basic plank, try different plank variations, including side planks — these are great for challenging your core muscles.

    2. Side Jack Knife

    This exercise is great for your abs and will give you an effective workout for your core muscles. It really squeezes your obliques as you lift your legs.

    sidejacknife12x8__landscape
      image via menshealth.co.uk
      1. Lie on your side with your legs nearly straight and slightly raised off the floor.
      2. Lift your torso off the floor and keep your left forearm on the floor for balance. Hold your other hand behind your right ear, with your elbow pointing towards your feet.
      3. Lift your legs towards your torso while keeping your torso stationary. Feel the stretch on the side of your body and pause for a few seconds.
      4. Slowly lower your leg.
      5. Beginner: Repeat this for 3 sets of 10 reps before changing sides.
      6. Advanced: Try a more advanced version that gets you using both top and bottom abdominals at the same time.

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      3. Squats

      Core workouts that include squats are essential. Not only do squats help with stability and mobility, they work the muscles through the entire body from the abdominals downwards, creating a great all-round optimal exercise.

      squats
        1. Start with your feet hip-width apart, keeping your back straight with shoulders pulled back, then straighten your arms out in front of you.
        2. Slowly bend your knees and push your butt out and down as though you’re about to sit down on a chair.
        3. Lower yourself so that your thighs are parallel to the floor, your knees are positioned slightly over your ankles, and your head and shoulders are aligned over your knees.
        4. Using your leg and butt muscles, slowly push up, keeping your weight evenly distributed throughout, and come back to a standing position.
        5. Beginner: start off with a repetition of 3 sets of 10 squats and increase the amount of squats in each set by 1 squat each day.
        6. Advanced: To make this move more difficult, add handheld weights, keeping them at your side throughout the exercise. Increase weights for more intensity.

        4. Arm, Leg, and Chest Raises

        This move really concentrates on your core muscles and allows them to work at their full potential.

        t-raise-e1453414140238
          image via positivemed.com
          1. Lie on the floor, face down with arms stretched out and legs straight.
          2. Slowly raise both arms up as far as you can and at the same time lift up both legs.
          3. Keep this position for a few seconds and then release your arms and legs back down to the floor.
          4. Beginner: Do 3 sets of 10 reps trying to increase the amount of time you’re engaging the core muscles.
          5. Advanced: Try adding a roll into the exercise by engaging the core on your front and then rolling carefully on to your back with legs and arms above you. This will work your core muscles even further.

          5. Quadruped

          This move tightens your abdominal muscles and improves balance.

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          Quadruped
            image via popsugar.com
            1. Start on your hands and knees. Place your hands directly below your shoulders, align your head and neck with your back, and tighten your abdominal muscles.
            2. Raise your right arm off the floor and reach ahead. Stay in this position for 5 seconds. Lower your right arm and repeat with your left arm.
            3. Raise your right leg off the floor, making sure to use your muscles to maintain balance. Hold for 5 seconds and lower your leg to the floor. Repeat with the left leg.
            4. Beginner: Repeat full arm and leg movements 5 times each, raising the amount of time you hold positions to add a challenge.
            5. Advanced: Hold a weight in your hand for an added challenge or raise both the opposite arm and leg together to work the core muscles more.

            6. Abdominal Hold

            While it may be tough at first, this move will help you build strength in your core.

            abdominal-hold
              image via muscledose.com
              1. Make sure you have a sturdy chair.
              2. Sit tall on the edge of the chair and place your hands on the chair down beside you, holding on to the sides.
              3. Tighten your abs and gently lift your toes about 2-4 inches off the ground and lift your butt off the chair.
              4. Beginner: Hold this position for as long as you can — aim for 5 -10 seconds.
              5. Advanced: Try challenging yourself by holding for up to a minute or add a stable weight to your lap to create added resistance and work the abdominals even more.

              7. Side Crunches

              Side crunches as part of your core workouts are a good way of targeting your mid-section.

              jvjb5u20160227165722
                image via gym-inspiration.com
                1. Lie on your left side with your legs lying on top of each other.
                2. Bend your knees so that they are at a rough 90-degree angle.
                3. Begin by moving your right hand to your right ear with the elbow pointing up. Start to move up and over to the side slightly until you can feel the burn in your obliques. Repeat on opposite the side.
                4. Beginner: Do 10 reps 3 times on both sides, increasing as you feel ready to to keep your abs challenged.
                5. Advanced: Try these advanced side crunches to get an extra burn.

                8. Using a Stability Ball

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                  Simple exercises using a stability ball can activate twice as many core muscles as classic belly toners like crunches and sit-ups, so it’s well worth investing one.

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                  For beginners, this core workout is a really great introduction to using a stability ball. Incorporate this into the rest of the workout or pick and choose certain exercises if you have time constraints:

                  This is great for more advanced stability ball exercises, working your core to the maximum:

                  Tips When Doing Your Core Workouts

                  • Write down a schedule of your workouts as this will help you to keep your motivation high. Start with a weekly or monthly timetable of each daily workout you do. Make sure you show exactly how many reps you will do for each exercise and show a progression throughout the week or month by adding weights and intensity.
                  • Be aware of your limits — if you feel pain at any stage, then stop the exercise immediately. Start easy and work your way up as this will make the workouts a lot more beneficial and will help you to avoid injuries.
                  • Always drink plenty of water when doing workouts as you can get easily dehydrated.
                  • Talk with your doctor if you suffer from back pain or are pregnant as these exercises may not be suitable.

                  Featured photo credit: Jonathan Borba via unsplash.com

                  More by this author

                  Samantha Aloysius

                  Samantha is an everyday health expert with a background in International Public Health and Psychology.

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                  Last Updated on April 19, 2021

                  15 Static Stretches to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine

                  15 Static Stretches to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine

                  Stretching is one of those aspects of fitness that many people conveniently forget about. Perhaps you’re one of those who consider stretching nothing but a mere chore meant for ballerinas and gymnasts. While they are great for both, static stretches can offer a boost to any workout routine for people of all fitness levels.

                  Irrespective of your reasons for working out, be it for sports or personal fitness, one thing is certain: stretching can help you. Static stretches come with myriads of benefits, such as improvement in flexibility and reduction in muscle tightness, which ultimately allow you to go through your workout routines with greater efficiency.

                  For the purpose of this article, we’ll zero in on several great static stretches and take a look at the benefits and when they should be done.

                  Benefits of Static Stretches

                  Static stretches come with tons of benefits that can help you make the most of your workout routine. Some of them include:

                  Improved Flexibility

                  If you want to perform better, flexibility is of tremendous importance, irrespective of the specific workouts you do. Luckily enough, static stretches are all you need to get all the flexibility you desire.

                  Flexibility, also known as the range of motion (ROM) around a joint, has been shown by several studies to be improved by static stretching.[1]

                  Although the specific mechanism through which this occurs is still unclear, static stretches have been shown to greatly increase muscle and joint flexibility[2] and tissue length[3], which work in tandem to make your workout more effective.

                  Prevent Injuries

                  If you’re looking to push yourself to your training limits without coming down with injuries, then stretching will do you a great service. Research has shown time and again that performing the right stretches pre- and post-workout greatly helps with injury prevention.[4]

                  Think of it this way:

                  When you stretch, you literally push your joints and muscle fibers to their limit. This increases the stretch tolerance in these muscles and joints over time, and the increased tolerance allows you to perform more rigorous exercises without negatively impacting your body or risking an injury.

                  Increased Blood Flow to the Joints

                  Another benefit of stretching is increased blood flow – and by extension, nutrient supply – to the joints and muscles of the target areas. This, in turn, improves the performance of these muscles and joints due to the availability of more nutrients, improved oxygenation, and removal of metabolites.

                  For static stretching, though, the mechanism of action isn’t as straightforward. When stretching statically, blood flow (capillary oxygenation) temporarily reduces due to vascular compression.

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                  However, immediately after releasing the stretch, the blood flow to these areas nearly doubles the pre-stretching levels.[5]

                  Improvement in Recovery

                  If you’ve been working out for some time, then you’ve probably discovered that a rigorous workout session can leave you battling sore muscles for days.

                  Recovery essentially means getting rid of this soreness and returning your muscle fibers back to their tip-top condition.

                  Research has shown that practicing static stretches after your workout session helps to reduce muscle soreness. And while some may argue that this effect is minimal, the fact still remains that stretching does help shorten your recovery time.

                  Stretching allows tissues to be better hydrated after the induced tension is released, and this encourages reduced inflammation and faster repair of such tissues.

                  Other reasons why you really should incorporate stretching into your workout include:

                  • Improved relaxation
                  • Increased movement efficiency
                  • Reduction in the risk of lower back pain
                  • Reduction in muscle tension
                  • Improvement in neuromuscular coordination
                  • Improvement in balance and postural awareness
                  • Relief from cramping

                  15 Static Stretches to Enhance Your Workouts

                  Here are some amazing exercises that will keep your body in tip-top condition and take your workout routine to the next level.

                  1. Neck Stretch

                    While sitting tall or standing, place your right arm gently on the right side of your head, and place the other arm out to your side. Slowly pull your head towards your right shoulder until you can feel the stretch on the left side of your neck. Hold for about 30 seconds before releasing, and repeat for the opposite side.

                    Many people tend to hold stress and tension in their neck and shoulders. If you find this is the case, this is one of the best static stretches to use for a muscle release in this area.

                    2. Chest Stretch

                      Stand upright, with your fingers interlocked behind your back, near your buttocks. While keeping your shoulder blades together and your back straight, push your arms up behind you until you feel the stretch in your chest. Hold for about 20-30 seconds before releasing.

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                      3. Cross-Body Shoulder Stretch

                      Shoulder Cross-Arm Stretch « CASS FITNESS

                        Stand upright or sit up tall on a chair or mat, and extend one arm out in front to shoulder height. Grab the extended arm with your other arm, and pull it towards your chest while keeping the extended arm straight. Continue the pull until you feel the stretch in your shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds, and repeat for the other arm.

                        4. Triceps Static Stretch

                          Lift your arms overhead, with both arms slightly behind your head and bent at the elbow. Use your right hand to pull your left elbow until you feel a stretch in your triceps. Hold for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the other arm.

                          Many know this stretch from gym class, but it really is one of the best static stretches for the arms.

                          5. Biceps Stretch

                          Arm Exercises | Seated Bent-Knee Biceps Stretch

                            Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. With your fingers pointing away from your body, place your two palms flat on the floor behind you. While your hands are steadily in place, slowly slide your butt downward toward your feet until you can feel the stretch in your biceps, shoulders, and chest. Hold for about 30 seconds before releasing.

                            6. Wrist Stretch

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                              While standing up straight or sitting tall, extend your right arm forward to shoulder height with your fingers pointing toward the ceiling. Grab your right fingers with your left hand, and pull your right hand to bend the wrist until you can feel the stretch. Hold this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the opposite arm.

                              7. Side Stretch

                                Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart. Take your right arm and reach over your head towards your left side while bending your side. Keep bending your side slowly until you can feel a stretch on your right side. Maintain this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the opposite side.

                                The muscles down your side body are notoriously difficult to stretch out. This is one of the best static stretches to try on a consistent basis to get them loosened up.

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                                8. Abdominal Static Stretch

                                  Lie down on your stomach with your face towards the ground and your palms facing the floor as though you’re about to do a push up. While keeping your pelvis firmly on the floor, gently push your upper body up from the ground. This should make your feel some stretch in your abs. Maintain this position for about 30 seconds before releasing.

                                  9. Reclined Spinal Twist

                                  Supta Matsyendrasana - Supine Spinal Twist - Yogaasan
                                    Lie down, with your arms extended to the sides and placed on the floor. While keeping the right leg straight, pull up your left knee towards your chest, tilt it toward your right side, and then drop it slowly over your extended right leg.

                                    Keep your shoulder blades flat on the ground, and you should feel the stretch around your back. Hold for about 30 seconds and repeat for the opposite side.

                                    10. Knees to Chest

                                    Knee-to-chest exercise from Physical Therapists' Advice to Manage Pain at Home - The Active Times

                                      Lie on the ground facing the ceiling, with your knees bent. Hold your shins, and pull your knees toward your chest. This should make you feel some stretch in your lower back. Hold for about 30 seconds before releasing. If you’re looking to loosen up your back muscles, this is one of the static stretches you can do daily.

                                      11. Hip Flexor Static Stretch

                                      How to Do the Standing Lunge Stretch

                                        Stand upright in a standard lunge position, and place your two hands on your hips. Step out on your right foot into mini-lunge position, without your knee going beyond your right toe. Hold for about 30 seconds and repeat for the left side.

                                        12. Figure 4 Stretch

                                        How to Do a Figure 4 Stretch | Openfit

                                          Sit tall on the ground with both knees bent and both feet on the floor. Lift your right leg and cross it over your left thigh, while your left knee remains bent. Pull both legs inwards toward your abdomen for a deep stretch of your glutes. Hold this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat with the other leg.

                                          13. Standing Quad Stretch

                                            Stand tall while maintaining a straight posture. With your left hand, grab a pole, wall, or anything durable for balance. With your right hand, grab your right foot and pull up your heels until they touch your buttocks.

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                                            Keep your knees close together while doing this, push your hip forward, and you should feel the stretch in your quadriceps. Hold this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the other side. This is one of the best static stretches for the quads.

                                            14. Hamstring Stretch

                                              Sit on the floor with your right leg extended straight in front of you and your left leg bent. Reach forward with your right hand, and touch your right toes. This should cause a stretch in your right hamstring.

                                              Hold this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the left leg. If you’re unable to reach your toes, try holding your shin instead, but seek to go further every time you perform the stretch until you can touch your toes.

                                              15. Calf Stretch

                                                Sit on the ground and extend your right foot straight in front of you. Gently pull your right toes backwards with your right hand. This should cause a noticeable stretch in your calf.

                                                Hold this position for about 30 seconds and repeat for the left leg, if you’re unable to reach your toes, use a rope or towel to pull your toes inward.

                                                Bonus: Stretch With a Resistance Band

                                                Resistance bands offer a unique benefit from free weights and create tension throughout your movement. Get the free 30 Day Resistance Band Full Workout Challenge, and challenge yourself to stretch with a resistance band.

                                                When Should You Do Static Stretches?

                                                Static stretching is great when done correctly and at the right time. Over the years, research has shown that static stretching produces best results when done after working out or on rest days,[6] but not as a part of warm up routines before an explosive workout session.

                                                This is because static stretches have a cool-down effect on each muscle group and are more effective when done after the muscles are already warm.

                                                That doesn’t mean you must never ever perform static stretches before working out, but do it sparingly. Dynamic stretches, which involve more movement, are generally recommended for warming up as it helps the body prepare better for the work ahead.

                                                The Bottom Line

                                                Carving out the body of your dreams isn’t only about lifting weights and running. You need to keep your body “elastic” if you’re going to make the most of your training, and that’s the whole point of static stretches.

                                                Starting today, be sure to incorporate these static stretching exercises into your routine, and in no time, you’ll find yourself recovering faster and performing better than ever before.

                                                More Tips on Stretching

                                                Featured photo credit: Alora Griffiths via unsplash.com

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