We all constantly hear about the importance of core strength and many of us even try to take it seriously. We crunch and twist and plank until we can’t any longer. Despite that, our progress seems to stall.
1. Lunges –
If you are thinking that lunges are only for your legs, then you probably haven’t tried an overhead lunge before. The first time I attempted overhead lunges, I was shocked by how heavy such a relatively light weight could feel. Overhead lunges will challenge your balance, flexibility, and lower back strength.
How to do overhead lunges: Stand tall with a relaxed posture and hold the weight above your head. Step forward with your left leg and lower yourself until your left knee is at a 90 degree angle. Step back to the original position. Repeat the steps, this time using your right leg.
2. Side Bends –
Side bends are a great way to target your obliques. Performing them overhead is a great way to increase the degree of difficulty.
How to do overhead side bends: Stand tall with a relaxed posture and hold the weight above your head. Keep your lower body firm with a slight knee bend. Bend or crunch your upper body to the left as far as you can. Return to the starting position and repeat on the right side.
3. Twists –
Twists are another great exercise as they involve your abs, obliques, and lower back. This allows your core muscles to work together in a way that is more functional in everyday life as well as athletics.
How to do overhead twists: Stand tall with a relaxed posture and hold the weight above your head. Keep your lower body firm with a slight knee bend. Rotate your body to the left as far as you can. Return to the starting position and repeat on the right side.
Before you try any of these exercises, you need to be sure you are flexible and strong enough to try them. You should already be able to perform the traditional variations of these exercises with some external resistance, such as dumbbells. Performing the overhead variations are more challenging on the upper body and the core than the traditional version.
Because you are dealing with putting heavy objects over your head, always start out with a conservative weight if you haven’t performed the exercise before. In fact, you can try to perform multiple reps without resistance to get a feel for the balance and strength required.
Once you are comfortable with the movement without having resistance, you can begin with conservative weight. A small dumbbell is a great place to start. If you have mastered the movement and are strong enough, you may be able to perform some of these with a barbell.
We all know core strength is crucial, but repeating the same movements can quickly get mundane. Using variations of common exercises, you can continue to make progress with your core.