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How to engage your core during every workout and throughout the day

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Your core muscles are the linchpin of your strength. Whether you’re aware of it or not, you are engaging your core muscles in almost every movement you make, whether hitting the gym or walking to your car.

The stronger your core, the greater its benefits. So while your core is regularly active in all your everyday movements, there are ways to be more intentional about strengthening your core during your regular daily routine — even if you don’t exercise regularly. Some of these are specific exercises targeted to the core, while others are more subtle. Both can have an appreciable impact on your daily activities.

Benefits of a strong core

Your core is generally defined as the muscles around the trunk of your body, including abs, diaphragm, obliques, hips, and glutes. These muscles are the literal power source for a slew of everyday needs, including:

  • Optimal posture
  • Maintaining proper balance and stability
  • Greater physical endurance
  • Helps prevent injuries
  • Reduces lower back pain
  • More “functional strength” for tasks like lifting and twisting

You don’t need to crush a huge core routine every day to reap the benefits of a more powerful midsection. In fact, there are quite a few core exercises you can do without equipment or gym membership.

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Simple but effective core exercises

This list is by no means exhaustive, but these exercises are sure to strengthen your core with no major investment of time or money. You can easily do them anywhere, and they are safe for beginners and experts alike.

  • Plank: Lie face down while using your elbows to support your upper body. Be sure your elbows are aligned under your shoulders. Tuck your toes under to lift your body off the floor. Tuck your pelvis to maintain a neutral back. Keep your back straight, holding the position for as long as you can.
  • Bird dog crunch: This crunch motion targets your lower back. Get on all fours aligning your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Tuck your pelvis and raise your right arm out as you straighten your left leg. Hold one second before lowering, then repeat on the other side.
  • Bicycle crunch: Sit with knees slightly bent, then raise your right knee while lowering your left elbow to meet it. Hold for one second, then repeat on the other side.
  • Glute bridge: Lie on your back with hands and feet flat on the floor, then lift your hips off the ground squeeze your glutes muscles together. Keep your pelvis tilted to maintain a neutral back.
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Sneaky ways to engage your core

It’s always nice to find a new value-add in life. That’s the appeal of these subtle but effective ways of using your everyday activities to beef up your core.

  • Breathing: That’s right. Even the simplest of all physical activities can be a tool for pumping up your core. Bring your shoulders back, bring your belly button in on your inhale, then bring your rib cage down about two inches on your exhale while tilting slightly forward. Hold for about five seconds and repeat.
  • Side lean: You’ll need a chair for this one, but hopefully that’s not a deal-breaker. Sit up so your shoulders are in line with your hips, then bring your rib cage down toward your hip on one side.
  • Putting away the groceries: Use your legs and core to lift bags or other heavy objects as you place them into cupboards or onto the counter. It’s as simple as that!
  • Climbing the stairs: Take the steps instead of the elevator and tighten your core as you move. You’ll feel this one sooner rather than later!
  • Yoga: Not every yoga pose will strengthen your core, but several will. On top of the plank pose and its variations, tree, boat, wheel, and reed poses, among others, all can provide you with extra core engagement.

Whether you’re looking for more functional strength, rock-hard abs, or both, these core exercises won’t fail you. The good news is that you can do core exercises just about anywhere, while our tips for extra engagement give you sneaky ways to pump up your core as part of the activities you already do in a normal day.

So give these tips and exercises a try. Your core — and the rest of your body — will thank you.

Required Disclaimer: BlissMark provides information regarding health, wellness, and beauty. The information within this article is not intended to be medical advice. Before starting any diet or exercise routine, consult your physician. If you don’t have a primary care physician, the United States Health & Human Services department has a free online tool that can help you locate a clinic in your area. We are not medical professionals, have not verified or vetted any programs, and in no way intend our content to be anything more than informative and inspiring.

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Scott Harris
Scott Harris is a freelance writer based near Washington, DC, with more than a decade of experience covering health…
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