Core Strength Exercises for the Serious Athletic Woman
Decreasing in numbers are the part-time powder-puff gym girls. Women are increasingly moving from light cardio workouts and easy resistance training in the gym to high-intensity circuit training. More serious female fitness buffs are even jumping into power exercises and tackling jerks, snatches, squats and presses. Women may be participating in more extreme weight training due to a competitive factor through sports, or because they are taking on more challenging careers such as the military, firefighters, police force, etc.
However, due to the structural differences in a female’s anatomy, the need to focus on building core strength is even more vital than their male counterparts. In order to maintain proper frame support, good posture and protection from injury, a serious female athlete needs a strong core for executing such demanding strength training exercises.
Strength Training Exercises and the Core
Core muscles are those that stabilize the trunk of your body while you are making other movements. Therefore, core muscles consist of the abdominals and back muscles. Many people focus exclusively on ab workouts when core training.
However, a good abdominal workout can be achieved through strength training exercises, thus providing you with both benefits at the same time. The reason for this is that most power exercises utilize core stabilizing muscles which are, therefore, worked as well during strength training.
Here are some of the best strength training exercises for athletic women to use to achieve a strong core:
Although core strength can be better achieved through other strength building workouts, some specific ab exercises are beneficial for sculpting your abdominals into a nice six-pack. Since most women desire a sexy, washboard stomach, included are a couple of good ab-specific exercises for this purpose.
Crunches – One of the staple ab exercises, crunches are good for ripping the abdominals. While laying on your back, cross your arms over your chest and bring your knees up as you raise your upper body. Touch your knees to your elbows, release and repeat.
Planks – Planks are a go-to total core strengthening exercise as there are several positions, each working a different part of your abs or back. The classic plank is completed by starting in a pushup position only you rest on your forearms and toes. Push yourself up onto your forearms with you back straight and parallel to the floor and hold for at least 30 seconds. You should eventually achieve maintaining a plank position for 2 or more minutes. You can strengthen oblique muscles by doing a side plank or one-handed plank and develop back muscles via the straight-armed plank.
Pushups should always be included in a core strength exercises. Not only are they good for building your core strength, but they will increase your upper body strength as well.
With your back straight, contract your abs as you raise yourself up until the arms are fully extended. Lower yourself back down until your chest is almost touching the floor and repeat.
Pressing weight overhead requires a great deal of support from your lower back as well as your abs which work to stabilize your core during the movement. If you perform overhead presses correctly with your back slightly arched and contracting your stomach as you lift, you will build a good core foundation through this strength exercise.
You should begin with a barbell weight you are comfortable with before increasing to heavier amounts.
Squats are another strength training exercise that benefits the core muscles as well as your lower body. When performing squats, keep the back slightly arched and focus on contracting your abdominals. Doing so will strengthen both sets of core muscles and add stability to your trunk.
If you’re just beginning, complete squats without weights by wrapping your hands around the back of the head and squat down until your thighs are parallel with the floor. You can then move to squatting with dumbbells and then onto barbells.
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