How Often Do You Need To Exercise Your Core For Optimum Results?

You probably have heard people refer to engaging their core, but which muscles exactly do they mean? You might think your core just refers to your abdomen (the "six-pack" muscles in front). But your core is far more complex and plays an important role, supporting a number of important functions.

Your core is comprised of your abdomen, pelvic region, lower back, and hips, according to the experts at Mayo Clinic. Considering how many processes these different areas support, it's no wonder that health experts advise that you work your core muscles. A stable core not only helps all of these interconnected areas function properly, but also work in harmony for improved strength, balance and stability.

Working your core is especially important these days. A surgeon general report revealed that at least 25% of Americans are sedentary, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And maintaining a strong core just makes sense when you realize all the daily activities that involve your core, such as bending down to tie your shoes or lifting a heavy package. You also use your core during pleasurable activities, such as golfing, racket sports, biking, and even sex. Besides supporting balance and stability for a variety of activities, maintaining a strong core can also help prevent and treat lower back pain. In fact, physicians often prescribe core exercises along with physical therapy and medications to help relieve lower back pain, per Harvard Health Publishing.

These exercises will build up your core

While building up your core is vital, be careful not to overtrain, fitness trainer Chris Parker, M.S., tells Cooper Aerobics. Parker explains that performing hundreds of sit-ups and holding planks for extended periods is not only less than optimal, but can lead to injury. Additionally, only focusing on the abs and doing core exercises improperly can create issues. Parker advises picking two to three core exercises that work different muscles and performing two to three sets of 10 to 15 reps each. Do this two to three times per week with a recovery day in between, and switch up exercises throughout the week.

If you are a beginner looking to build your core strength, the experts at Healthline have some suggestions for exercises to include in your regimen. For instance, try bridge pose as one of your options. This one will strengthen your glutes and thighs. Lay on your back with feet planted on the floor at the same width as your hips, knees bent and palms facing down. Lift your hips and hold for up to 30 seconds. Repeat this set three times. From here, segue into ab crunches. Keep your knees and feet in the same position as bridge pose. Tuck your chin, cross your arms on your chest and lift your upper back. Hold and lower. Try one set of eight to 12 reps.

If you want to know the optimum amount of core exercises to attain your specific goals and fitness level, consult a professional trainer. Always check with your doctor before beginning any new fitness routine.