If you are new to working out, you may be wondering what are dynamic core exercises. Dynamic core exercises have many benefits. Core strength not only looks great in a bikini, but as women over 40, having a strong core to prevent back injuries and lower back pain can be vital.
A lot of core strength actually comes from deep muscles in our lumbar spine as well as abdomen. Taking a few minutes a day to do a core challenge like this swimming strength workout or ab workout can improve chronic low back pain, strengthen pelvic floor muscles, and overall improve the quality of everyday life as we age.
Why is Core Strength Important for Women After 40?
Before we can learn the best dynamic core exercises, it’s good to learn why we should do them. The benefits of a strong core are almost endless, but the following are just some of the reasons that core strength is so important, especially after 40:
- Better upper body strength. Stronger abdominal muscles mean that your spine has more support. When your spine has more support, you have more upper body strength.
- Longer life expectancy. Studies have shown that those with weaker abdominal muscles are twice as likely to die earlier than those with a stronger core.
- Less back pain. A stronger core means stronger abdominal and back muscles, which means less pain and injuries.
- Get rid of belly fat. If your goal is fat loss or a change in body composition, a strong core can go far into having less appearance of fat in your stomach.
- Better posture. Strengthened core muscles help facilitate strengthened hip flexors, both of which are crucial to developing better posture.
- Better balance. Stronger core, back and hip muscles all lead to better balance and less falling and injuries.This is true for sports and other activities as well.
- Quicker recovery. With a stronger core and abdominal muscles, your muscles will recover more quickly from exertion.
- Fat burning benefits. With more muscle, fat burning increases making it easier to lose fat.
- Decreased resting heart rate. More muscle not only means more fat burning, but it also means that your resting heart rate will go down.
- Lowered risk of heart issues. Studies have shown that a stronger core and less abdominal fat lowers your risk of heart disease and issues such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and more.
- Less joint pain. With a stronger core and less body fat, you’ll find that your joints hurt less with less weight on them.
- Improved athletic performance. Athletes often find themselves improving upon their skills once they put focus into building their core strength.
As you can see, the benefits of core strength are vital for a healthy, active lifestyle regardless of age or gender.
What Muscles Make up the Core?
What do you think of when you think of the core? Do you think of a set of six pack abs or a flat tummy? The truth is, the core is made up of much more than you might think. That’s right. Core muscles extend beyond just the abdominals, they extend to your lower body as well.
The group of muscles that make up the core include the following:
- Multifidus – The multifidus is the muscle that keeps your spine stable during your movements.
- Oblique Muscles – The obliques are a muscle group that can be found within a large portion of your core, the internal and external obliques are what is responsible for the rotation of the torso. These muscles also work in tandem with the erector spinae and rectus abdominus to allow for bending at the sides.
- Erector Spinae – The erector spinae is the muscle group that allows for bending backward and side to side.
- Transverse Abdominis – The transverse abdominis is the innermost layer of the core muscles.
- Rectus Abdominis – The rectus abdominis is the group of muscles that allows you to bend forward and flex laterally.
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Testing Your Core Strength
Are you wondering whether or not you have a strong core, there is no reason to wonder. You can test your core strength to see exactly where you are fitness wise when it comes to your core and in what areas you need to work on.
Here are some tips for testing your core strength:
To test your core, you can do a few different things such as a plank or hanging from a pull up bar.
How to do a plank:
With your forearms and toes on the ground, hold yourself up with your elbows under your shoulders and forearms forward. You should be looking straight down at the floor. Be sure to engage your abdominal muscles, tightening your muscles and pulling them back toward your spine. If you are just beginning, try and hold the position for 10 seconds, working your way toward holding it for 30 to 60 seconds.
How to Hang From a Pull Up Bar:
Grab the pull up bar with a pronated grip (palms down) with your arms extended fully. From this position, try and raise your legs to a 90 degree angle, feet together, knees locked. Keeping your back straight, try and stay in this position for 10 seconds, gradually working up to 30 to 60 seconds.
I’m sure you have questions as it comes to dynamic core exercises and building a strong core. Here are some of the most common questions that people have when it comes to core exercises.
How often should you do core exercises?
To get the best results in improving your core strength, aim to do core workouts at least 3 to 4 times per week. This is a good number of workouts for strengthening your core while also not overtraining.
How long does it take to strengthen your core?
There is no real answer to the question “how long does it take to strengthen your core.” The reality is, the length of time it takes you to strengthen your core is dependent on a few things.
Your fitness levels at the beginning of your work out program.
The intensity of your workouts.
Your personal fitness and strength goals.
You may begin to start seeing changes in a matter of weeks, however it may take longer. If your goal is to strengthen your core in order to improve your posture or fix your low back pain, you may find that you will start seeing those results in a matter of months.
How to build core strength from nothing?
To strengthen your core from nothing isn’t impossible, but it does mean that you need to be motivated and self disciplined to put in the work. Trust me though, it is worth it when you start to see that you can, in fact, strengthen a weak core!
The exercises that we discuss below will help you to get started on a core workout program that will help you find results, yet not become overwhelmed as a beginner.
Before you begin a workout regimen focused on strengthening your core, you need to be sure that you are working with the correct exercises and you know and can use proper form in completing these exercises. This is imperative in order to make sure to avoid developing lower back pain or suffer other exercise related injuries.
What is the fastest way to strengthen your core?
The fastest way to strengthen your core is to stay focused and motivated and maintain a routine. Depending on your goals, it will likely take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to reach your ultimate goals.
Will core exercises give me six-pack abs?
The reality of this is that you are not going to get six pack abs without a routine of dynamic exercises for your core, but it really takes more than that. To get six pack abs, you need to focus on healthy eating along with additional types of exercises such as cardio and strength training for the entire body. This HIIT Treadmill Workout for fat loss beginners is a great beginner cardio workout.
Will a stronger core help my back pain?
Having a stronger core can help tremendously with back pain. Here are just some of the ways that having a strong core can help your back pain.
Use Caution with Ab Exercises with Back Pain
Are you currently dealing with back pain? Are you wondering if you are able to improve your core strength with a bad back? The answer to this question is yes you can do plenty of exercises for core strength, however, it is important to be cautious.
There are core exercises that can strain your back, so it is important to listen to your body while working out. You may need to avoid some exercises, or start slow, gradually increasing difficulty as core muscles get stronger.
Here is a list of some of the core exercises that are commonly known to create back pain:
- Sit Ups
- Incline and Decline Sit Ups
- Lying Sit Ups
- Leg Lifts
- Roman Twists
- Overhead Medicine Ball Slam
- Ab Twist Machine
- Seat Ab Crunches
A Stronger Core Helps You to Maintain Good Posture
Bad posture is often the culprit of back pain. It creates strain in your other back muscles. Having good posture, however, can create less strain in your back muscles. Strengthening your core is an ideal way to fix your posture, therefore creating less pain.
A Strong Core Helps to Avoid Muscle Imbalance and Weakness
Strengthening your core muscles are a great way to avoid muscle imbalances and weakness. If you sit often throughout the day, it is easy to develop weaknesses in your back muscles and building your core up is the right way to avoid this common pain issue. Core strengthening is ideal for injury prevention which is important as we get older.
10 Best Beginner Exercises to Strengthen Core
Now that we have talked all about the core muscles and the importance of having a strong core, are you ready to learn about the best beginner core strengthening exercises?
All of the great core exercises that we have listed below can be done at home. While you can use home fitness equipment such as stability balls and resistance bands, they are not required.
Planks (also called forearm planks) are a great workout for strengthening your core. These are one of the best core workouts to do at home and the best thing? There are many different variations of planks which help you to strengthen various muscles throughout your core.
We talked a bit earlier about planks and there you can see how to do one. Once you are a little more advanced, here are some of the plank variations you could try:
- Standard Plank
- Plank with reach
- Side to Side plank
- Side plank with hip drop
- Plank walk down
Planks are an ideal core workout that can give you success with only seconds of work. Using this 30-day Plank Challenge Weight Loss program is a great way to increase strength.
- Modified Plank
For true beginners or those who may be dealing with weak core muscles, modified planks are a great alternative. This is similar to an actual plank other that you will leave your knees on the ground instead of holding yourself up with your feet. This is much easier for beginners as it provides a great opportunity to work on the stabilizer muscles in your core.
- Toe Touches
Toe touches aren’t just for stretching! To do this great core workout, lie on your back with your legs straight out and both arms extended over your head. Next, lift both your toes and your hands toward the ceiling/sky. Return to your starting position and repeat the movement.
Bridges may sound intimidating, but they are actually easier than you might think! To do bridges, lie down with your back on the floor, while bending your knees up with your feet on the floor.
Next, raise your hips up toward the ceiling and lower them back down. Throughout this exercise, be sure to keep your arms on the floor at your sides, relaxed. Be sure to keep any tension out of your neck and shoulders.
- Table Pose with Lifted Knees
Yoga poses are among the best ways to strengthen your core. To do this position, get onto your hands and knees with your toes curled under your feet and your hands lined up below your shoulders. Tighten your abdominal muscles, pulling your belly button toward your spine, trying your best to keep your back in a straight line.
- Hip Dips
Hip dips may seem like they shouldn’t be on the beginner exercise list, but they are! As a matter of fact, they are one of the easier core exercises.
To do hip dips, begin in a plank position on your hands and feet. Turn your feet together to the left side slowly, lowering your hips down to the floor, repeat this movement on the other side.
- Dead Bugs
Well, doesn’t this sound like a fun exercise? To do this exercise, lay on your back with straight legs and arms extended fully above your head. Lift your right leg and left arm, returning them back down while alternating to lift your left leg and right arm.
While you have to be careful with this one if you already suffer from back issues, these can be a great workout for strengthening your core. For this exercise, lay down on your back and lift your legs, alternating them as though you were riding a bike.
Oh, the good old classic crunch. The core workout of our youth is still one of the best workouts we can do to strengthen our core.
Lay on your back with your eyes focused on the ceiling. With your knees bent, lift your chest toward your knees while keeping your chin away from your chest. Return to your starting position and repeat.
The superman is a great core exercise that will work wonders toward strengthening your core. To accomplish this move, lie face down on the floor, extending your arms out in front of you with palms down and your legs straight behind you. Keep your neck and spine aligned, lift your legs, arms and chest, pausing for as long as you can (up to 90 seconds), return to starting position and repeat. You’ll really feel this one in your lower abs.
All of the exercises we have listed here are great core stability exercises that will help you strengthen your core muscles, burn fat and improve balance and stability.
Daily Workout Plan – Ab Exercises for Women Over 40
Now that you have more knowledge of core strength and you know all about the best beginner exercises to strengthen core, you are ready to get started. Here are a couple sample daily workout routines to help get you started.
Ab Workout 1:
Plank/Modified Plank – Do 10 planks held for 30 seconds on with a 30-60 second break between planks
Crunches – Do 3 sets of 15 to 20 crunches
Hip Dips – Do 3 sets of 10 to 15 hip dips
Supermans – Do 5 – Supermans
Ab Workout 2:
Crunches – Do 3 sets of 15 to 20 crunches
Hip dips – Do 3 sets of 10 to 15 Hip Dips
Superman – Do 10 Supermans, held for 30 seconds with a 30-60 second break between exercises
Toe Touches – Do 3 sets of 10 Toe Touches
With core exercises, the key is consistency. Aim for working out at least 20 minutes per day, 5-6 days per week.
After a short time of consistent workouts, you’ll find that you see results in more than just your core. You might even start to see results in the rest of your body. Of course, always consult your doctor before beginning a workout program.