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Last Updated on April 2, 2020

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 and has experience in diabetes care counselling.

                  10 Quick Easy Workouts To Lose Arm Fat At Home 8 Core Workouts You Can Easily Do At Home Weight Loss Plan And Program: Create Your Own One 8 Leg And Butt Workouts To Reshape Your Lower Body 4 Simple Desk-Based Stretches for Effective Lower Back Pain Relief

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                  Last Updated on March 30, 2020

                  Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

                  Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

                  Feeling tired all the time?

                  Have you ever caught yourself nodding off when you’re watching TV, listening to someone drone on during a meeting or even driving a car?

                  I know I have, especially when I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive.

                  Feeling tired all the time may be more widespread than you think. In fact, two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week.[1]

                  If you’re tired of feeling tired, then I’ve got some great news for you. New research is helping us gain critical insights into the underlying causes of feeling tired all the time.

                  In this article, we’ll discuss the latest reasons why you’re feeling tired all the time and practical steps you can take to finally get to the bottom of your fatigue and feel rested.

                  What Happens When You’re Too Tired

                  If you sleep just two hours less than the normal eight hours, you could be as impaired as someone who has consumed up to three beers.[2] And you’ve probably experienced the impact yourself.

                  Here are some common examples of what happens when you’re feeling tired:[3]

                  • You may have trouble focusing because memory and learning functions may be impaired within your brain.
                  • You may experience mood swings and an inability to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not because your brain’s neurotransmitters are misfiring.
                  • You may get dark circles under your eyes and/or your skin make look dull and lackluster in the short term and over time your skin may get wrinkles and show signs of aging because your body didn’t have time to remove toxins during sleep.
                  • You may find it more difficult to exercise or to perform any type of athletic activity.
                  • Your immune system may weaken causing you to pick up infections more easily.
                  • You may overeat because not getting enough sleep activates the body’s endocannabinoids even when you’re not hungry.
                  • Your metabolism slows down so what you eat is more likely to be stored as belly fat.

                  Are you saying that feeling tired can make me overweight?

                  Unfortunately, yes!

                  Feeling tired all the time can cause you to put on the pounds especially around your waist. But it is a classic chicken and egg situation, too.

                  Heavier people are more likely to feel fatigued during the day than lighter ones. And that’s even true for overweight people who don’t have sleep apnea (source: National Institutes of Health).

                  Speaking of sleep apnea, you may be wondering if that or something else is causing you to feel tired all the time.

                  Why Are you Feeling Tired All the Time?

                  Leading experts are starting to recognize that there are three primary reasons people feel tired on a regular basis: sleep deprivation, fatigue and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

                  Here’s a quick overview of each root cause of feeling tired all of the time:

                  1. Tiredness occurs from sleep deprivation when you don’t get high-quality sleep consistently. It typically can be solved by changing your routine and getting enough deep restorative sleep.
                  2. Fatigue occurs from prolonged sleeplessness which could be triggered by numerous issues such as mental health issues, long-term illness, fibromyalgia, obesity, sleep apnea or stress. It typically can be improved by changing your lifestyle and using sleep aids or treatments, if recommended by your physician.
                  3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medical condition also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis that occurs from persistent exhaustion that doesn’t go away with sleep.

                  The exact cause of CFS is not known, but it may be due to problems with the immune system, a bacterial infection, a hormone imbalance or emotional trauma.

                  It typically involves working with a doctor to rule out other illnesses before diagnosing and treating CFS.[4]

                  Always consult a physician to get a personal diagnosis about why you are feeling tired, especially if it is a severe condition.

                  Feeling Tired vs Being Fatigued

                  If lack of quality sleep doesn’t seem to be the root cause for you, then it’s time to explore fatigue as the reason you are frequently feeling tired.

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                  Until recently, tiredness and fatigue were thought to be interchangeable. Leading experts now realize that tiredness and fatigue are different.

                  Tiredness is primarily about lack of sleep.

                  But fatigue is a perceived feeling of being tired that is much more likely to occur in people who have depression, anxiety or emotional stress and/or are overweight and physically inactive (source: Science Direct).

                  Symptoms of fatigue include:

                  • Difficulty concentrating
                  • Low stamina
                  • Difficulty sleeping
                  • Anxiety
                  • Low motivation

                  These symptoms may sound similar to those of tiredness but they usually last longer and are more intense.

                  Unfortunately, there is no definitive reason why fatigue occurs because it can be a symptom of an emotional or physical illness. But there are still a number of steps you can take to reduce difficult symptoms by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

                  How Much Sleep Is Enough?

                  The number one reason you may feel tired is because of sleep deprivation which means you are not getting enough high-quality sleep.

                  Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep per night. If you’re sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.

                  So, quantity and quality do matter when it comes to sleep.

                  The key to quality sleep is being able to get long, uninterrupted sleep cycles throughout the night. It typically takes 90 minutes for you to reach a state of deep REM sleep where your body’s healing crew goes to work.

                  Ideally, you want to get at least 3 to 4 deep REM sleep cycles in per night. That’s why it’s so important to stay asleep for 7 or more hours.

                  Research also shows that people who think they can get by on less sleep don’t perform as well as people who get at least seven hours of sleep a night[5] So, you should definitely plan on getting seven hours of deep restorative sleep every night.

                  If you are not getting 7 hours of high-quality sleep regularly, then sleep deprivation is most likely reason you feel tired all the time.

                  And that is good news because sleep deprivation is much simpler and easier to address than the other root causes.

                  It’s also a good idea to rule out sleep deprivation as the reason why you are tired before moving on to the other possibilities such as fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which may require a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

                  4 Simple Changes to Reduce Fatigue

                  Personally, I’m a big believer in upgrading your lifestyle to uplift your life. I overcame chronic stress and exhaustion by making these four changes to my lifestyle:

                  1. Eating healthy, home-cooked meals versus microwaving processed foods or eating out
                  2. Exercising regularly
                  3. Using stressbusters
                  4. Creating a bedtime routine to sleep better

                  So, I know it is possible to change your lifestyle even when you’re working crazy hours and have lots of family responsibilities.

                  After I made the 4 simple changes in my lifestyle, I no longer felt exhausted all of the time.

                  In addition, I lost two inches off my waist and looked and felt better than ever.

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                  I was so excited that I wanted to help others replace stress and exhaustion with rest and well-being, too. That’s why I became a Certified Holistic Wellness Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.

                  Interestingly enough, I discovered that Dr. Sears recommends a somewhat similar L.E.A.N. lifestyle:

                  • L is for Lifestyle and means living healthy including getting enough sleep.
                  • E is for Exercise and means getting at least 20 minutes of exercise a day ideally for six days a week.
                  • A is for Attitude and means thinking positive and reducing stress whenever possible.
                  • N is for Nutrition and means emphasizing a right-fat diet, not a low-fat diet.

                  The L.E.A.N. lifestyle is a scientifically-proven way to reduce fatigue, get to the optimal weight and to achieve overall wellness.[6]

                  And yes, there does seem to be an important correlation between being lean and feeling rested.

                  But overall based on my personal experience and Dr. Sear’s scientific proof, the key to not feeling tired all of the time does seem to be 4 simple changes to your lifestyle.

                  L — Living Healthy

                  Getting enough high-quality sleep every day is the surefire way to help you feel less fatigued, more rested and better overall.

                  So, whether you’re sleep deprived or potentially suffering from fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, you probably want to find a way to sleep better.

                  In fact, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body isn’t getting the time it needs to repair itself; meaning that if you are suffering from an illness, it’s far more likely to linger.

                  As unlikely as it sounds, though, fatigue can sometimes make it difficult to sleep. That’s why I’d recommend taking a look at your bedtime routine before you go to bed and optimize it based on sleep best practices.

                  Here are 3 quick and easy tips for creating a pro-sleep bedtime routine:

                  1. Unplug

                  Many of us try to unwind by watching TV or doing something on an iPhone or tablet. But tech can affect your melatonin production due to the blue light that they emit, fooling your body into thinking it’s still daytime.

                  So turn off all tech one hour before bed and create a tech-free zone in your bedroom.

                  2. Unwind

                  Do something to relax.

                  Use the time before bed to do something you find relaxing such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating or taking an Epsom salt bath.

                  3. Get Comfortable

                  Ensure your bed is comfortable and your room is set up for sleep.

                  Make sure you room is cool. 60-68 degrees is the ideal temperature for most people to sleep.

                  Also, it’s ideal if your bedroom is dark and there is no noise.

                  Finally, make sure everything is handled (e.g., laying out tomorrow’s clothes) before you get into your nice, comfy bed.

                  If your mind is still active, write a to-do list to help you fall asleep faster.[7]

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                  Above all, be gentle with yourself and count your blessings, some sheep or whatever helps.

                  This article also offers practical tips to build a bedtime routine: How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier

                  E — Exercise

                  Many people know that exercise is good for them, but just can’t figure out how to fit it into their busy schedules.

                  That’s what happened in my case.

                  But when my chronic stress and exhaustion turned into systemic inflammation (which can lead to major diseases like Alzheimer’s), I realized it was time to change my lifestyle.

                  As part of my lifestyle upgrade, I knew I needed to move more.

                  My friends who exercise all gave me the same advice: find an exercise you like to do and find a specific time in your schedule when you can consistently do it.

                  That made sense to me.

                  So, I decided to swim.

                  I used to love to swim when I was young, but I hadn’t done it for years. The best time for me to do it was immediately after work, since I could easily get an open swim lane at my local fitness club then.

                  Also, swimming became a nice reason for me to leave work on time. And I got to enjoy a nice workout before eating dinner.

                  Swimming is a good way to get your cardio or endurance training. But, walking, running and dancing are nice alternatives.

                  So find an exercise you love and stick to it. Ideally, get a combination of endurance training, strength training and flexibility training in during your daily 20-minute workout.

                  If you haven’t exercised in a while and have a lot of stress in your life, you may want to give yoga a try because you will increase your flexibility and lower your stress.

                  A — Attitude

                  Stress may be a major reason why you aren’t feeling well all of the time. At least that was the case with me.

                  When I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive, I felt chronically stressed and exhausted. But there was one thing that always worked to help me feel calmer and less fatigued.

                  Do you want to know what that master stress-busting technique was?

                  Breathing.

                  But not just any old breathing. It was a special form of deep Yogic breathing called the “Long-Exhale Breathing” or “4-7-8 breathing” or “Pranayama” in Sanskrit).

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                  Here’s how you do “Long-Exhale Breathing”:

                  1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your hand on your tummy (so you know you are breathing deeply from your diaphragm and not shallowly from your chest)
                  2. Breathe in deeply and slowly from your diaphragm with your mouth closed while you count to 4 (ideally until your stomach feels full of air)
                  3. Hold your breath while you count to 7 mentally and enjoy the stillness
                  4. Breathe out through your mouth with a “ha” sound while you count to 8 (or until your stomach has no more air in it)
                  5. Pause after you finish your exhale while you notice the sense of wholeness and relaxation from completing one conscious, deep, long exhale breath
                  6. Repeat 3 times ensuring your exhale is longer than your inhale so you relax your nervous system

                  This type of “long-exhale breathing” is scientifically proven to reduce stress.

                  When your exhale is twice as long as your inhale, it soothes your parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the relaxation response.[8]

                  Plus, this is a great technique for helping you get to sleep, too.

                  N — Nutrition

                  Diet is vital for beating fatigue – after all, food is your main source of energy.

                  If your diet is poor, then it implies you’re not getting the nutrients you need to sustain healthy energy levels.

                  Eating a diet for fatigue doesn’t need to be complicated, time-consuming though.

                  For most people, it’s just a case of swapping a few unhealthy foods for a few healthier ones, like switching from low-fiber, processed foods to whole, high-fiber foods.

                  Unless your current diet is solely made up of fast food and ready meals, adjusting to a fatigue-fighting diet shouldn’t be too much of a shock to the system.

                  Here’re 9 simple diet swaps you can make today:

                  1. Replace your morning coffee with Matcha green tea and drink only herbal tea within six hours of bedtime.
                  2. Add a healthy fat or protein to your any carb you eat, especially if you eat before bed. Please note that carb-only snacks lead to blood-sugar crashes that can make you eat more and they can keep you from sleeping.
                  3. Fill up with fiber especially green leafy vegetables. Strive to get at least 25g per day with at least 5 servings (a serving is the size of your fist) of green vegetables.
                  4. Replace refined, processed, low-fiber pastas and grains with zucchini noodles and whole grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, oats, amaranth, millet, teff, brown rice and corn.
                  5. Swap natural sweeteners for refined sugars and try to ensure you don’t get more than 25g of sugar a day if you are a woman and 30g of sugar a day if you are a man.
                  6. Replace ice cream with low-sugar alternatives such as So Delicious Dairy-Free Vanilla Bean Coconut Ice Cream.
                  7. Swap omega-6, partially-hydrogenated oils such as corn, palm, sunflower, safflower, cotton, canola and soybean oil for omega-3 oils such as flax, olive and nut oils.
                  8. Replace high-sugar yoghurts with low-sugar, dairy-free yoghurts such as Kite Hill Plain Yoghurt with 1g sugar or Lifeway Farmer Cheese with 0g sugar.
                  9. Swap your sugar-laden soda for sparkling water with a splash of low-sugar juice

                  Also, ensure your diet is giving you enough of the daily essential vitamins and minerals. Most of us don’t get enough Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, Iron and Magnesium. If you are low on any of the above vitamins and minerals, you may experience fatigue and low energy.

                  That’s why it’s always worth having your doctor check your levels. If you find any of them are low, then try to eat foods rich in them.

                  Alternatively, you might consider a high-quality multi-vitamin or specific supplement.

                  The Bottom Line

                  If you are tired of feeling tired, then there is tremendous hope.

                  If you are tired because you are not getting enough high-quality sleep, then the best remedy is a bedtime routine based on sleep best practices.

                  If you are tired because you have stress and fatigue, then the best remedy are four simple lifestyle changes including:

                  • Enough High-Quality Sleep with Bedtime Routine
                  • Regular Exercise You Love
                  • Stress Reduction with Long-Exhale Breathing
                  • Fatigue-Reducing Diet

                  Overall, adopting a healthier lifestyle Is the ideal remedy for feeling more rested and energized.

                  More Tips to Help You Rest Better

                  Featured photo credit: Cris Saur via unsplash.com

                  Reference

                  [1] YouGov: Two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week
                  [2] National Safety Council: Is Your Company Confronting Workplace Fatigue?
                  [3] The New York Times: Why Are We So Freaking Tired?
                  [4] Mayo Clinic: Chronic fatigue syndrome
                  [5] Mayo Clinic: Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?
                  [6] Ask Dr. Sears: The L.E.A.N. Lifestyle
                  [7] American Psychological Association: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
                  [8] Yoga International: Learning to Exhale: 2-to-1 Breathing

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