The main purpose of our core is not to enable flexion in the spine, but to stabilize it. In fact the main reason why we are able to stand tall and not slouch over due to gravity, is in large part thanks to our core stabilizing muscles. Essentially every bodily movement is aided by the strength of our core. Yet it is remarkable to think how many people leave this out of their weekly routine.
To improve your results in the gym as well as accomplish your goals, one must work their muscles in respect to their function. The following workouts ignore the flexion of the spine and focus on working all the core muscles involved in spinal stabilization. I will be posting a series of work outs so keep your eye out and feel free to share your own workouts.
Perform the exercises in the order shown, using the prescribed sets, reps, and sets. For the mountain climber, pause for 2 seconds each time you raise your knee toward your chest. Rest 30 seconds between each set.
PLANK – (2) SETS – 30 seconds hold
This is a stability exercise that trains your entire core, including your abdominal, lower-back, and hip muscles.
- Start to get into a pushup position, but bend your elbows and rest your weight on your forearms instead of on your hands. Your elbows should be directly under your shoulders.
- Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles.
- Brace your core by contracting your abs as if you were about to be punched in the gut.
- Squeeze your glutes.
- Hold this position while breathing deeply
MOUNTAIN CLIMBER WITH HANDS ON BENCH/ELEVATION – (2) SETS – 30 seconds hold
- Assume a pushup position with your hands on a bench.
- Your body should form a straight line from your head to your ankles.
- Brace your abdominals—as if you were about to be punched in the gut—and maintain that contraction for the duration of this exercise.
- Lift your right foot off the floor and slowly raise your knee as close to your chest as you can. Don’t change your lower-back posture as you lift your knee.
- Return to the starting position.
- Repeat with your left leg. Alternate back and forth.
SIDE PLANK – (2) SETS – 30 seconds hold
- Lie on your left side with your knees straight.
- Prop your upper body up on your left elbow and forearm. Position your elbow under your shoulder.
- Brace your core by contracting your abs forcefully as if you were about to be punched in the gut.
- Raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from your ankles to your shoulders. Your head should stay in line with your body.
- Hold this position for the prescribed amount of time while breathing deeply. That’s one set.
- Turn around so that you’re lying on your right side and repeat.
Researchers in Finland found that people with poor muscular endurance in their lower backs are 3.4 times more likely to develop lower back problems than those who have fair or good endurance. And turns out, a side-plank test is one of the best ways to gauge this endurance. Simply perform a side plank for as long as you can without allowing your hips to drop or drift backward. A good score: 60 seconds. If you don’t meet this standard, start focusing more on your core.