10/13/2012 08:37 am ET | Updated Dec 13, 2012

Increase Your Core Strength and Flexibility With These 7 Abdominal Exercises


Written by Marni McNiff

So, what exactly is your "core"? Most people mistakenly think their core is just the abdominal muscles, but it actually includes all of the muscles surrounding your lumbar spine and pelvis and is incredibly important for a healthy workout. Core stability provides a solid base from which to perform your daily movements. If you're looking for tight, toned abs, and to increase strength and flexibility, doing core exercises daily is key.

A strong core will allow you to maintain proper body alignment in whatever exercise or sport you are doing as well as in your day-to-day activities. Whether it's for injury prevention or increasing strength, there are no downsides to core exercises.

Increasing flexibility throughout your body can help keep your muscles at their peak as well as help prevent injuries. Everyone and anyone can benefit from increasing core stability and increases in flexibility.

Your core involves several muscle groups:

  • Transverse abdominus
  • Obliques
  • Rectus abdominus
  • Multifidis
  • Diaphragm
  • Pelvic Floor

Muscle Benefits of Core Strength

Occasional exercisers and serious athletes alike use core training to prevent injuries through the lower back and other large muscle group areas. In addition, strong core muscles will help other muscle groups work more efficiently, including the pectorals, hamstrings, and gluteals.

Core stability is also an essential component of injury rehabilitation, not only for low back pain, but also for other injuries such as hamstring strain and shoulder pain. It provides stability through the underlying muscles that support movement. It is commonly used by physical and sports therapists.

Other benefits of core strengthening include:

  • Improved balance
  • Improved strength -- twisting movements can aid in sport-specific training, such as throwing a ball, swinging a racket, or swimming
  • Reduced back pain
  • Improved athletic performance
  • Improved posture

Core Strengthening Exercises

The following exercises will strengthen and tone your core. While each exercise is suitable for beginners, this guide includes some variations for the more experienced exerciser or athlete.

Core Strengthening Exercises

Like this article? Check out:

1 Core Strengthening Exercise to Be Reckoned With

Yoga for Back Pain Relief

You can follow Organic Authority on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+.

For more by Organic, click here. Follow Kristi on Twitter @Veggieconverter

Image: Ruxor

Subscribe to the Lifestyle email.
Life hacks and juicy stories to get you through the week.