Tighten your tummy and lose the mommy pooch. Do these women’s core strength exercises if you want to be a strong and skinny mom!
We all hear how core strength is so important. It seems like people are obsessed with core. But do they really even know what it means when they talk about it? I feel like I am watching The Office when I hear people reference core strength. You know that scene when Michael Scott is talking about his twelve-hundred dollar core machine but the longer he tries to “sell it” the more you realize he has no clue what core really means?
I feel like I said core a lot… Anyways, you may feel similar. Like you know it involves your abdominals but you don’t quite know the difference?
Let me clear it up for you. Your core is the trunk of your body. So not just your abdominals, or even obliques. It encompasses the entire trunk, front and back. So your back muscles like latissimus dorsi, trapezius, erector spinae are all included. But one of the most important muscles is your tranverse abdominis. All of these muscles and more work to support the spine. So what exactly happens if you do have a weak core? Bad things, ladies. Bad things.
What happens if you have a weak core
Let’s start at poor posture. Because this is what gets the snowball rolling. Bad posture happens from muscular imbalances. When some are much stronger or weaker than their antagonists and forcing other muscles to compensate or are becoming chronically tight themselves.
When the spine is misaligned we can start to see pain and discomfort creep into our pelvic and shoulder girdles. Most often a sore or tight low back is felt first. But when Our backs hurt, so does our daily lives. It gets harder to get a good night’s sleep. Sitting for long bouts (those of you who are sitting at a desk all day) starts to hurt. Chores that require a lot of bending over like dishes, laundry, picking up babies and toddlers, washing the bathtub all become challenging tasks. Goodness, even breastfeeding, holding, and carrying our babies can become too much. Not too good for moms.
What else makes a weak core a recipe for trouble in motherhood is before, during, and after pregnancy! Our bodies get thrown so out of whack from growing those little peanuts. And if we are already starting with a weak foundation, once our center of gravity is off and our muscles are becoming more imbalanced, it will be even harder build it back. And you may feel like recovery and getting your body back takes longer. That is what happened to me. I neglected core strength during my first pregnancy. Afterwards, I didn’t take the proper care with pospartum workouts, I just jumped back in. I had postpartum back pain and spams up until my next pregnancy then I start to have prenatal back pain and told myself, “Not again!”
It wasn’t easy, but I was motivated to feel better and train the way my body needed me to.
Why is core so hard to train
Any number of reasons. Maybe you have never really taken the time to do core work? Maybe you had a lot of babies and felt like weaker each time. Or what is most likely, you thought doing crunches and sit-ups were the only core exercises you needed. But they never really seemed like they made a difference so you A) gave up and did them when you thought about it, or B) did as many as you could as often as you could. Both are going to get you nowhere.
Then there’s the whole motherhood thing. Like I said before, pregnancy does a number on your core. The weight of our bellies cause a major shift in our hips and shoulders if we aren’t mindful and practive. Then while we are postpartum we barely have time to shower, let alone stay on top of our core routine. And we all know that babies almost enforce poor posture. Holding, nursing, feeding, burping, all require a lot of standing or sitting with crummy posture. I remember, I would tell my husband he had to burp the baby because my back was KILLING me after nursing him for 30 minutes straight. For the fifth time. That day. Yikes LOL the things we do for those stinkers.
Regardless of what we are training for, we need to do it with intention. With a purpose. We need to take the time to target the right muscles in the right way with the right core strength exercises. So doing a million reps of the same 2 exercises is not exactly the answer. You want to be mindful in every workout session and focus on the quality not quantity.
How to build core strength from nothing with exercises
Whether you have never took the time to do it, or motherhood got the better of you, this is what you want to do. Start simple. Focus on the basic, most foundational women’s core strength exercises that are designed for a body that has and will go through pregnancy. You don’t need to do some crazy off the wall core exercise to get results. Start with putting 1 or 2 of these exercises into your workouts each day. Then build up to 2 or 3 core-only sessions per week for a while as you build your motor control and stability. Then as you progress you can add more advanced or higher intensity core exercises into your regular workouts or do core sessions more frequently.
Women’s core strength exercises
The most basic and important exercises are vacuums, pelvic tilts, back extentions, and rows.
A vacuum (intentionally drawing your abdominals inward as your exhale) is going to be the activation that you want to focus most on and will find yourself doing it in almost every exercise. Things like overhead presses, squats, planks, all require you to draw your belly inward to support your spine and prevent your hips and/or shoulders from coming our of place during the movement.
So start with these ones and keep it simple. And if you want some guided help, try my Functional Core Strengthening Workout.