I know so many of you are always looking at different ways to spice up your workout and include different exercises to work different areas on your body. How many of you focus on your core stability? When I write 'core' I am referring to everything, from the outer region (six pack) to the very core and the lower back muscles. How many of you neglect these areas this time of the year when perhaps building bigger chest and leg muscles is more important? Here is why I think you should be performing core exercises all year round and not do them just in the summer months.
Basically your core refers to your mid section and it has an inner and outer part. The core gives you the support you need on a daily basis getting through everyday life tasks and more importantly with your training sessions. It is said that a strong core is the foundation to a aesthetic and functional body. Just like a house you start with the foundations before you build the roof, it is the same with the body and you need to have a strong core to develop strength and muscle tone. Did you also know that is isn't just the muscles around the mid section that are considered your core muscles? That's right, muscles like your glutes and lats are also considered core muscle because of how they work together and support your spine.
Got Abs? Got A Core?
Unfortunately just because you have abdominals it doesn't always mean you have a strong set of core muscles. One of the easiest ways to test if you have a good core is to perform the plank exercise. If you are not aware of this exercise it is something you can do where ever you are (but possibly best to wait until you are at home or in the gym to prevent odd looks.) So when you perform the plank which is pictured below, if you can hold this for around 90 seconds (or more) you are considered to have good core strength.
Simply adopt this position which is known as the plank and keep everything tight. Whilst in this position you want to make sure you are on your elbows and toes and just hold it here. Keep your eyes focused on the ground so that you keep your spine in neutral alignment and keep your hips up so that you keep your core activated. From here hold this position for as long as you can, welcome to the plank :)
Why Use A Swiss Ball?
A great way to develop core strength is to adapt your training sessions. Many of you will use a bench to perform certain exercises like a bench press or a row. While using a bench is a great way to isolate the muscles you want to work, it will only work these areas and nothing else. So why not mix it up? Instead of using a bench why not use a swiss ball so that you engage more muscles and ultimately make the session harder. When you use a swiss ball for a chest press exercise using a set of dumbbells you are going to work other muscles in the body, this is fact. What this also means is you will burn more calories because your body is having to engage more muscles, makes sense right? So if your goal is to lose weight then using a swiss ball will help you burn more calories and work more muscles at once.
What Exercises Can You Do?
If you are going to change up your workouts then it is important to know you will also need to adjust your weights you are lifting. When you use a swiss ball you recruit more muscle fibres from other areas which makes the exercise harder. So if you are used to chest pressing 30kg on a bench, you might want to drop down a few kilos. Here are some exercises you can perform
SwissBall Chest Press
SwissBall Bent Over Row
SwissBall Seated Shoulder Press
SwissBall Hamstring Curl
Try the above exercises out on a swiss ball and notice the difference in your mid drift area. If you need help or more explanation on the exercises leave a comment below and I will get back to you on them. As always, stay safe with your training and make sure you warm up properly. Have Fun :)