Do you want to improve core strength but limited on time and unsure of the best exercises to get the job done? This appears to be a common problem and the reason many people throw in the towel without even trying.
Now, well-designed micro-exercise routines are gaining popularity for effectiveness and meeting the needs of busy lifestyles. Research indicates short bouts of exercise can add up to big results.
Why Your Core Is Important
Core workouts are important for building strength and stability. They provide the foundation for more advanced exercises you may want to put in your program later. Without a solid core routine, weakness and negative changes in body configuration can occur according to research.
That being said, performing a consistent and effective core routine is vital for your health and fitness. Core muscles include the deep and shallow muscles of the trunk and help with the following:
- Stabilize the spinal column
- Align the body
- Enhance body movement
- Improve balance
- Abdominal muscle definition
- Improve functional fitness
When the core muscles are not exercised on a regular basis, they can become weak increasing the risk of the following:
- Negative changes in body configuration
- Compress posterior joints of the lumbar spine
- Low back pain/discomfort
- Excessive anterior/posterior leaning of the pelvis
- Muscle tension
Core exercises maximize muscle strength and stability. Having a strong core helps prevent injuries to the knees, hip joints, and lumbar spine. Core muscle stability is also said to relieve back pain because you are able to maintain proper posture.
Developing a strong core will provide a better workout experience. It will round out your fitness program and help you maintain good form through each movement. There are several exercises that work the core including sit-ups, bridges, and planks.
One of the best ways to strengthen the core is performing the plank. One study indicates the greatest core muscle activity occurred in the plank exercise. Core muscles were shown to be strengthened effectively and the muscle activity was directly correlated with the posture of the exercise and the location of the muscle.
The 5-Minute Daily Plank Workout is a quick, well-designed program that includes a variety of plank holds. The following exercises will effectively strengthen your core in just minutes per day.
5-Minute Daily Plank Workout
Perform a quick warmup – one minute walk/jog in place and light stretch. Now you're ready to go! To reach a full 5 minutes, perform each plank exercise two times through.
Straight Arm Plank (30 seconds): Start in push up position on the floor with arms slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Hands will be directly under the shoulders maintaining straight arms and on your toes. Keep your core tight and body straight from head to toes. Avoid sagging at the hips or dipping your head.
Breathe through the exercise for 30 seconds. Modification: perform plank from your knees instead of toes. Hold exercise for a lesser amount of time.
Reverse Plank (30 seconds): Sit on an exercise mat with legs extended in front of you. Place your palms, fingers spread wide, on the floor slightly behind and outside your hips. Press into your palms and lift your hips and torso toward the ceiling. Look up to the ceiling, point your toes, and keep your arms and legs straight. Keep entire body strong and form a straight line from your head to your heels. Tighten your core and try to pull your belly button back toward your spine.
Hold the position for 30 seconds. Modification: perform exercise resting on forearms and elbows at 90-degree angles.
Forearm Side Plank (30 seconds): Lie on your right side on an exercise mat with legs extended (right leg will be placed directly on left leg, feet stacked). Place right elbow directly under shoulder resting on the forearm. Keep head and spine neutral, right hip and knee remain in contact with the floor. Engage core and lift your hips and knees off the floor.
Hold plank for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side. Modification: perform the exercise with slightly bent legs and not allowing knees to lift from the floor.
Pyramid Plank (30 seconds): Start in plank position on forearms using an exercise mat. Maintain a tight core and begin pressing your hips toward the ceiling, remaining on forearms, and gently pressing heels toward the floor (think upside down "V" shape). Hold the position briefly, lower hips returning to plank position, and push up onto hands. Move your body into a downward dog yoga position (hips raised again toward the ceiling) maintaining a tight core and straight back. Stretch heels and chest toward the floor simultaneously.
Slowly return to plank position on forearms.
Repeat exercise for 30 seconds. Modification: perform exercise from the knees.
A Word From Verywell
Building a strong core is essential for muscle strength and stability. Core exercises are shown to help reduce the risk of injury, relieve low back pain, and promote proper posture. The plank exercise is said to be an effective way to stimulate your core muscles and achieve maximum results.
The good news is you can strengthen your core in just five minutes per day. Quick exercise programs are scientifically proven as effective and can accommodate busy lifestyles. They are a great way to get in that much-needed workout.
You should consult your physician or other health care professional before starting this or any other exercise program to determine if it is right for you.