It’s the center of your body and the point from which you generate the power you need to do other exercises. The core muscles also act as dynamic stabilizers, muscles that stabilize your body when you move your extremities. Therefore, strong core muscles are integral to being functional and fit. Core stability also helps you stay balanced and maintain good posture. Plus, they protect against injury. When you lift something, your core muscles chip in and help you move that heavy object with less risk to your back.
However, your core muscles won’t get strong on their own. You need to stress them enough to force them to adapt and become stronger. Do you work your core primarily by doing mat exercises? Bad news. You can’t maximize the strength and stability of your core by doing only abdominal exercises, like crunches since this exercise works a limited number of muscles and your core is more than just your abs. In fact, over 30 muscles make up your core, including the muscles that make up your abdominals and back. Even the muscles that make up your pelvic floor and glutes are core muscles.
You’re familiar with one of the most common exercises that work your core, the plank, and its many variations. In fact, the inability to hold a plank for long is a sign that your core muscles are weak and could use some work. How do you know if your core is strong? Try timing yourself when you hold a plank. If you can hold a plank less than 30 seconds, your core muscles are weak. Beyond 60 seconds and you’re doing well. If your core could use some work, why not add standing core exercises to your routine?
Why Work Your Core Muscles While Standing?
One benefit of training your core from a standing position is it offers more of a balance challenge. Better balance skills will serve you well as you age. Plus, standing core exercises often work more muscle groups than those you do lying down such as a plank. In addition, unlike exercises like the crunch, these exercises work the entire core, not just the superficial abdominal muscles, the ones that give your abs definition. Science supports the benefits of standing core exercises too. A study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology found that standing core exercises activate the core muscles more than those done while seated.
Let’s look at some of the best standing core exercises and how you can add them to your routine.
Squats standing on two legs work your core muscles to some extent, but a single-leg squat works your core even more because your core muscles work harder to stabilize your body. Here’s how to do one:
- While bearing weight on your left foot, slowly extend your right leg out in front of your torso. If you need to, you can place your arms out in front of you for balance.
- From this position, slowly lower your body into a squat position. The goal is to descend low enough that your hips are parallel with the ground.
- Push with your left heel to rise back up to the starting position.
- Do 6 to 8 repetitions and 2-3 sets.
- Switch legs and repeat.
The dumbbell chop is another dynamic exercise that will work your core and do it in a dynamic manner. You can use a dumbbell or a medicine ball in lieu of a dumbbell. Here’s how to do one:
- Stand with your feet about hip-width apart.
- Hold a light dumbbell at each end with both hands. Bend your knees & rotate your torso to the right as you bend your knees, bringing the weight down to about knee level.
- Swing the weight up across your body, as you straighten your legs until it’s above your left shoulder to complete one rep.
- Repeat for 10 repetitions.
- Switch sides and repeat. Aim for 2-3 sets.
Medicine Ball Slam
This is a fun and effective exercise that also helps release frustrations! All you need is a medicine ball. So, grab a 10-pound medicine ball, and let’s get started. Here’s how to do one:
- Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart with the medicine ball on the floor in front of you.
- Lower your body toward the floor with your back straight. Pick up the medicine ball with both hands.
- Stand up and lift the medicine ball above your head with your arms stretched up toward the ceiling.
- Slam the ball against the ground as hard as you can.
- Grab the ball and repeat 10 times. Aim for 2-3 sets.
Here’s a standing exercise that will work your core and get your heart rate up in no time! You might be familiar with tuck jumps already. The reason it works your core muscles so well is that you bring your knees up to your chest when you jump and that activates your core. Here’s how to do this fun and challenging exercise:
- Stand with feet hip-width apart.
- Descend into a partial squat.
- Jump into the air as you bring your knees up toward your chest as high as you can.
- Land softly with your knees slightly bent.
- Keep repeating for 8-10 repetitions. Aim for 2-3 sets.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart with your arms stretched straight out in front of you at shoulder level.
- Step forward with your left leg as you bend your knees and rotate your torso to the left.
- Rise back up to the starting position.
- Repeat the movement using your right leg and twisting your right torso.
- Keep switching sides.
- Complete 8 repetitions on each side. Aim for 2-3 sets.
The Bottom Line
Now you know why you should work your core from a standing position too and some exercises that will help you do it. Working your core muscles from a standing position will also help you improve proprioception and balance. We all need to lower our risk of falling as we get older. A strong core makes all of the activities you do easier and more enjoyable. It also gives a boost to your poster. So, do standing core exercises and stand taller!
- Mayo Clinic. “Core exercises: Why you should strengthen your core muscles”
- Harvard Health Publishing. “Core conditioning — It’s not just about abs”
- PLOS One. The effects of performing integrated compared to isolated core exercises. Atle Hole Saeterbakken, Ajit Chaudhari ,Roland van den Tillaar,Vidar Andersen. Published: February 27, 2019.
- Eur J Appl Physiol. 2012 May;112(5):1671-8. doi: 10.1007/s00421-011-2141-7. Epub 2011 Aug 30.
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