Exercises for the core are not always planks and side planks, and of course never crunches.
The term 'core' is constantly misused, and the misconception is the core is our six pack.
I think of the core as the foundation of our body. It is a collection of muscles used to stabilize and move the spine. The inner core, or Core 4 group of muscles, is comprised of the diaphragm, pelvic floor, multifidi along the spine, and the transverse abdominals. While the outer core include such muscles as the rectus abdominals, obliques, lats, glutes, hip flexors, and quadratus lumborum in the lower back, to name a few.
Learning to correctly activate the Core 4 group through the coordination of breathing and contraction, using a core cue visualization word*, will lead to proper stabilization and a reduction of common core dysfunctions such as lower back pain, mummy tummy, leakage and more.
Here are three exercises, when done using the Core 4 activation cue, surprisingly work on strengthening your core.
Bridge with Weight
Lie on your back and place a weight on your hip flexors. Knees bent and feet on the floor pelvis width apart and spine in neutral. Exhale and engage using a core cue, and then lift bum off the floor pressing the hips up to the ceiling keeping bum untucked. Inhale down and release engaged pelvic floor. Complete 2 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions.
Tall Kneeling Press
Grab a pair of dumbbells, and mat. Kneeling on both knees, get as tall as you can by extending hips. Exhale and engage using a core cue, and press the weights overhead. By engaging the core you are support the lower back through this movement. Inhale, release engage core and lower arms to start. Complete 2 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions.
Hold dumbbells in front of your shoulders, legs a little wider than hip width apart and toes slightly turned out. Inhale to expand as you lower in the squat, keeping knees aligned over shoelaces. Expand and engage using your core cue as you rise back up. Engaging the core as you press up, supports the load on the spine and pressure on the pelvic floor during a front squat. Complete 2 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions.
* The Bellies Inc Core Confidence Training assists in learning your individual core cue visualization word and applying it to a series of exercises over the course of 8 weeks to create a mind-body connection to your core.