If you are someone who has a trainer for your exercise routine. you may have heard it often, “Engage your core!” or “Tighten your stomach!” This happens with any kind of exercise you perform, whether it is lifting weights, Pilates or even walking. They keep telling us to engage our core. What most of us do is suck in our stomach and practically stop breathing. Well, let us inform you that it is absolutely wrong to do that. Instead, just let us learn how to engage your core.
So, what exactly does ‘engaging your core’ mean?
Core is the powerhouse of the body. Having a strong core will give strength and energy to your whole body and hence, it is important to keep it engaged to strengthen it. Core engagement makes your workout more effective and leads to quicker results. Core muscles include the abdominal muscles, lower back muscles, your glutes and even your pelvic floor muscles. Well-known Pilates instructor Namrata Purohit, in her recent Instagram post by her, shed light on what core engagement means. She goes on to say that there are two things you need to do to engage your core:
1. Simple pulling in the belly button. It is like you are wearing a tight pair of jeans and you are sucking in your belly button, but not too much.
2. Pulling up the pelvic floor muscles. Purohit explains it with an example that if you are peeing and someone walks into the loo and you have to stop peeing, the muscles you use to stop peeing are your pelvic floor muscles.
So, the combination of these two steps is called the core engagement.
Though, we should practice engaging our core the whole day: while standing, sitting or walking, here are some exercises to engage your core and strengthen it:
3 exercises to engage your core
When talking about core strengthening, the mind automatically goes to Pilates. Pilates is a form of low-impact exercise that aims to strengthen your core muscles while improving postural alignment and flexibility.
2. All fours
A good position for engaging your core is on all fours. In this position, pull your abs up and in towards your spine and keep your torso still whilst you exhale. The key is to keep breathing. Keep repeating this in 3 sets of 1 minute each.
Plank exercise is specifically designed for our core. When you lie down straight on your stomach and pull up all your weight on just your elbows and toes then your core is the area of focus. Make sure to tighten your glutes and engage your core. Try this for a minute and gradually increase it up to 10 minutes.