Five Ways to Build a Stronger Core

Most people would probably like to strengthen their core muscles.
In my Jan. 21 blog, I listed many reasons why having a strong core can improve your overall physical and even mental health. Core strength allows the abs and back to correctly support the spine. When core muscles are weak, an imbalance is created and bad posture and/or injuries can result. Needless to say, your jeans won‘t fit as well either.
But some people may be thinking, “That’s easier said than done.”
Or, “That would take way too much work. How can I build up my abs (the key to your core) with a busy schedule?”
The truth is, it’s not all that hard to strengthen your entire core (considered from the waist to underneath the shoulders) and firm up your belly in the process
Here are five ways listed below to power up your core. Of course, these must be combined with a sensible diet to achieve the most positive results.

1. The Plank – The hottest new exercise I’ve heard of in the last five years or so in the Plank. Get into the plank position on the floor by raising up from your hands and knees, line the wrists up under shoulders, and keep your back straight, abs and glutes tight.
Hold yourself up for reps of 30 seconds, 60 seconds or more if you can do it.
Once you get good at that, a few weeks later try the side plank, raising yourself up from a side position.

2. Swiss Ball crunches (aka exercise ball crunches) – Lie back onto the Swiss Ball with your feet firmly planted on the floor and do crunches. You can do straight-ahead crunches, or try to turn to one side or the other at the top.

3. Seated Rotation – In a seated position with your knees bent and legs together, put the arms in front, roll back slightly and rotate the spine right and left.

4. Swiss Ball Dumbbells – Try doing some of your standard dumbbell exercise, like dumbbell chest presses, while lying or sitting on the Swiss Ball instead of a standard bench. Without a solid bench, this will really work your core to help provide balance and stability.

5. Take an exercise class, or follow a program on your own – Activities like Yoga and Pilates will greatly help build your abs and the rest of your core.

There are lots more good exercises for the core out there. Research them more on your own or ask a trainer.
But remember that even if you build up the strength in your core, you can still have fat around your stomach. It will take a good diet to really notice a big difference in the abdominal area.

At Home Fitness consultant Aaron Dorksen’s blog deals with a variety of fitness topics, ranging from workout tips, motivational ideas and feature stories on how exercise impacts people’s lives. E-mail him with comments, questions or ideas for future blogs at