There’s a lot talked about core strength and many of us think that the most important way that we can show that ours is in tip-top condition is having a rippling six-pack. While this is a manifestation of being in good shape – the sort of shape that you need to be to do well in wrestling – it’s only part of the story.
When we talk about your core it’s not just the abdominal muscles that we’re describing and to understand this it’s time for a quick anatomy lesson. That’s because the core muscles on your stomach are in three layers and each one needs to be conditioned for strength. Particularly important are the innermost muscles, the transverse abdominis, because they create the greatest stability for your spine and pelvis. Your back muscles are also important because these also stabilise the spinal column and the diaphragm that controls breathing.
As well as improving overall strength and stablilty, a strong core is also very important for preventing injury, an especially important consideration in a sport like wrestling so whenever you’re planning an exercise regime, while calorie-burning cardio is important, you should also factor in time for core strengthening too. Here are five exercises that can help.
This is the quintessential exercise to build up a strong core. It’s also the sort of exercise that involves the minimum of movement but the maximum of effort. The idea is to hold your spine as straight as you can while you support your weight on your forearms and your toes. To make it even harder extend your hands so you’re supported by them instead.
Settle down on the floor and bend your knees. Then lean back concentrating on keeping a straight back. Hold your arms out in front and slowly raise your legs keeping your feet together. Slowly straighten your legs to create a V-shape with your body and hold this pose for an increasing amount of time.
Lay down with your back on the floor and stretch your arms up towards the ceiling. Raise your legs with knees bent at 90 degrees. Lower your opposite arm and leg at the same time to just above the floor and hold. Alternate and repeat for an increasing number of repetitions and prolonged periods in hold.
As your core strength increases you can start to crank up the exercise. In this, you adopt the plank position with your arms resting on a gym ball. Gradually roll away the ball, keeping your back straight all the time. Then gradually roll the ball back towards yourself.
Hanging Knee Raise
Using a set of dip bars, hold yourself upright with straight arms. Slowly raise your knees towards your chest and lower them in a controlled way as slowly as you can manage. For an even more effective exercise, you can also do this exercise hanging from a pull-up bar.
Of course, there are many other ways that you can build up your core strength, from sit-ups to Reformer Pilates. Whichever you use, the secret of success is going to be building up gradually then, very soon, you really will start to have not just abs but a whole core of steel!