If you ‘google’ core workouts, you get an endless list of articles promising to “strengthen your abs in 4 simple exercises”, or “6 pack abs in 8 minutes a day” but how do you know which core exercises will work best for you?
As a triathlete, I know that a strong core is imperative for swimming, biking and running well:
- In the swim, strong core muscles are important for holding the body taut in the water and preventing our hips from sinking
- On the bike, core muscles are invaluable for bike handling and maintaining posture on the bike
- When running, core muscles are critical to holding good form
Over the past several years, I’ve experienced lower back pain towards the end of long rides and I’ve received the advice that I should “work on my core.” However, I find that certain ab and core exercises put a significant strain on my back, exacerbating the problem. This month, I’ve reached out to a personal trainer, Brendon Rearick of Movement as Medicine, for core exercises that I can do without putting undue strain on my lower back.
Brendon’s key piece of feedback was to avoid any exercise that hyper-extends the back and to focus on exercises where I can maintain the back in a neutral position.
- Planks (front plank and side plank)
- Roll-outs with stability ball or a wheel
- Assisted or unassisted leg lowers
- Push up taps
- Hip Lifts (single and double)
- Dead bugs
- Lying hip flexion with mini-band
- Half-kneeling in-line chop and lift
- Push-ups with perfect form
Exercises to avoid:
- Hollow Rocks
- Russian twists
- Flutter kicks
Brendon also reminded me that core muscles should be engaged as much as possible when doing any strength exercise and not only when doing focused core work.