Core & More: 8 Essential Exercises for Core & Functional Strength

J.R. Rosania
April 4, 2017
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As older athletes, it is imperative that we stay strong and able to continue to do the activities we love by incorporating several essential exercises for core and functional strength.

Essential Exercises

One of the more important areas of the body to maintain strength is in the core. The core is essential to functional movement and day-to-day physical activities. Our core is located in the center of our bodies and enables us to move athletically, as well as support and maintain a healthy back.

Core work is also important for athletes – swimmers, runners, cyclists, etc. – to maintain better body position in our sports. A strong core allows us to move more efficiently and with better strength and speed.

With core exercises, they should be done three times a week with repetitions of 15-20 and two to three sets per exercise. Be sure to do the movements slowly and with control. Concentrate on your abdominal muscles through each rep.

Whenever one of my athletes asks, “What else can I do to help my performance?” my response is always: “More core!”

Basic Building Blocks

Additionally, it’s essential that we include basic functional exercises to support both overall athletic conditioning and strength throughout the training year.

If you’re just starting out, aim for two to three days of strength exercises each week, doing two sets of 20 repetitions for the first two weeks. Then, progress your workouts to three sets, two to three times a week.

To expedite the process of building strength and improving overall fitness, add some extra cardio into the mix, such as biking, treadmill walking or the elliptical trainer two to three days a week for 30 minutes.

Let’s Do It

Following are eight essential exercises for the core and overall body strength.

1) Streamline Sit-Up

Lying flat on your back and holding a medicine ball at your chest, complete a sit-up, streamlining the medicine ball vertically over your head while keeping your arms and legs straight. Slowly return to your starting position, and repeat
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Athlete: 61-year-old Larry Burns, triathlete, cyclist and ballroom dancer.

2) Physio Ball Pike

Roll out on the top of the physio ball into a push-up position until the ball is at shins/ankles. Elevate hips in a vertical movement, keeping legs straight. Slowly return to a position parallel to the floor, and repeat.

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3) Physio Ball V-Up

Lie flat with a physio ball overhead. Do a V-Up (simultaneously raise the ball overhead and lift legs vertically, keeping legs straight and high as possible, finishing in a pike position). Transfer ball from ankles to the hands. Slowly lower to starting position, and repeat.

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Athlete: 65-year-old Dr. Charles Bode, triathlete, maxillofacial surgeon.

4) Bosu Ball Plank on Elbows

Establish a push-up position on the ball. Keep your legs and body straight. Rest elbows on the ball. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat three times.

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5) Tube Alternate Curl

With a tube/band anchored to the floor, perform a palm-up bicep curl.

Athlete:  48-year-old Adrienne Leblanc and World Champion triathlete (women 45-49, Olympic Distance).

6) Tube Upright Row

With a tube/band anchored to the floor, perform an in upright row, keeping elbows higher than wrists.

7) Tricep Push-Down

With a cable or tube attached to the wall or cable tower, extend arms down to perform a tricep extension.

8) Medicine Ball Squat to Vertical Throw

Hold an 8- to 12-pound medicine ball at your chest and lower into a wide squat position. Launch the ball vertically overhead as high as possible. Let it bounce, then catch and repeat.

Note: All training exercises should be performed under the supervision of a qualified coach or instructor in order to protect the safety of the participants

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