best core exercises without weights
I can’t over emphasise the importance of your core. And it’s got nothing to do with sporting a six-pack come summer. Your core is the base support system for the entire body, supporting not only our posture but also the function of our remaining muscle groups.
By building strength in our core, including the abdominals and the obliques, we are going to take pressure away from our lower back and help to correct muscle activation when doing all sorts of movements, including running, cycling, weightlifting, and even sitting at our desks.
There are many simple things we can do to improve core strength… even when we don’t have access to weights. So just because you’re not at the gym doesn’t mean you can’t squeeze in a core-busting workout.
Diaphragmatic breathing is crucial for core activation. By breathing into our stomach versus breathing into our chest, we are able to activate our core muscles to be ready to work. Our deep core muscles provide us with stability and we can easily switch these on by breathing in deep, and then breathing out by pulling our belly button towards our centre. Allow your belly to rise as you breathe in and suck the belly in as you breathe out. This way our core muscles are activated and are ready to get stronger.
No weights? No worries
The core is our centre and it is an important tool to stabilise our systems. To carry the weight of our bodies, it is vital that we create body weighted strength in these muscles. There are many different core workouts that you can do to help build strength without any equipment. If you need a bit of guidance at home, use the Nike+ Training Club app to find your own favourite workouts. My personal favourite that requires only your body weight is ‘Cut to the Core’ – which includes various exercises from walk outs, planking to pendulum legs.
Hit the pavement
My favourite core workout is running! Running is an amazing tool to control your breathing, activate your core and build strength through these muscles. Running is an entire body workout, and the simple movement of one foot in front of the other requires engagement of many muscle groups, which over time will build significant strength. To ensure you’re you’re using your core whilst running, spend two or three minutes beforehand practicing diaphragmatic breathing. This way once you head out the door, your core is ready to work!
Lydia O’Donnell is a New Zealand-born marathon athlete, running coach and Nike+ Run Club coach. Follow her at @lydiaodo