A strong core is essential for a well-rounded, functional physique. Even if you’re not interested in having six-pack abs, you should still be prioritizing core strengthening exercises on a regular basis.
The core is comprised not just of the abdominal muscles, but of all the muscles in the trunk, including the back, hips, pelvis, and glutes. Core strength improves balance and stability, which improves your sports and gym performance, as well as your ability to complete daily activities like carrying groceries.
If you don’t work your core muscles, you’ll be more susceptible to low back pain, bad posture, and various muscle injuries.
Think you don’t have time for core exercises? Think again. These six hacks will help you strengthen your core no matter where you are.
1. Sit on a Stability Ball
You can easily strengthen your core while at work by sitting on a stability ball instead of a regular office chair. Some chairs are even designed to have a stability ball as the seat, you get all the benefits of a ball while still having a place to rest your arms.
When you sit on a stability ball, you’re forced to engage your core and sit up straight. Otherwise, you’ll topple over.
As an added bonus, sitting on a stability ball can help you burn up to four times more calories per hour than people who sit on a regular chair.
2. Check Your Posture
Practicing good posture even when you’re not sitting on a stability ball is another way to strengthen your core without really trying.
Next time you’re standing in line at the grocery store or the bank, take a second to evaluate the way you’re standing. If you’re like most people, you’re probably leaning into one hip with your head tilted down to look at your phone.
Put your phone in your pocket and stand up straight so that your hips are above your knees, your shoulders are above your hips, and your head over your shoulders with your eyes looking forward.
It might feel a little awkward at first. But, your body will thank you later on for looking up and giving your neck a break. If you want to make this even more challenging, try lifting one leg a few inches off the ground to challenge your balance.
3. Change the Way You Drive
Did you know that you can work your core muscles while you drive, too?
Next time you’re sitting in traffic, try this exercise:
Start by sitting up straight. Then, push your lower back into the back of your seat. Be sure to keep your rib cage lifted and your stomach pulled in toward your spine, too. You can even add a glute squeeze as a bonus move.
4. Challenge Your Balance During Workouts
Maybe you go to the gym regularly but don’t want to tack on any extra time to your workouts. If this is the case, make some adjustments to your favorite exercises to easily strengthen your core in your workouts.
Many compound exercises already require you to engage your core, so be sure you’re doing plenty of squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, and dumbbell rows. You should also incorporate single-leg exercises like contralateral deadlifts and pistol squats. You can also stand on a balance disc or BOSU ball for an extra challenge.
5. Hit the Trails
If you enjoy walking or jogging, you can challenge your core during these workouts by taking them outside and running on a trail rather than the treadmill.
Trail running helps you engage the muscles in your hips, back, and abs to stay stable as you run over an unpredictable surface with varying inclines and declines.
As you can see, there are lots of easy ways to sneak core work into your daily routine. Give these hacks a try today, and you’ll be feeling stronger and experiencing better posture before you know it!