Even if you’ve never seen an exercise routine, read a fitness magazine, or set foot in a gym, you’ve probably heard the word “engage your heart” at least once in your life. It’s often politely welcomed, and other times it’s screamed as you finish the last rep.
You can, however, be unsure of what your heart is, what it means to engage it, and how to go about doing so.
The muscles that cover your trunks, such as your abdominals, obliques, diaphragm, pelvic floor, trunk extensors, and hip flexors, make up your heart.
For balance and movements like lifting weights and getting up from a chair, the core offers support to the trunk. It also gives you the freedom to move your torso when required, such as when reaching your seatbelt or swinging a golf club.
Additionally, core muscles are used in everyday tasks such as breathing, posture management, urination, and defecation.
Your diaphragm is responsible for allowing air to flow into and out of your lungs as you exhale and inhale. Your core muscles contract to hold your trunk upright as you sit up straight.
Let’s go over what core muscles are and how they help with trunk stability, as well as some core exercises to add to your workout routine.
What are the muscles that make up your core?
The pelvic floor muscles, transverses abdominis, multifidus, internal and external obliques, rectus abdominis, erector spine, and diaphragm are among the significant muscles involved. The latissimus dorsi, gluteus maximus, and trapezius are minor core muscles.
Core Strengthening Exercises
Simple abdominal stability exercises are mentioned below to help you engage your heart. They aren’t exhaustive, but they can help you understand how to engage your core muscles.
The abdominal squeeze
Lie down on your back, legs bent. You can also do this by sitting up straight.
Imagine taking your belly button to your spine as you suck in your stomach. Although you should be able to breathe, the muscles around your abdomen and sides can tighten. Make sure your back isn’t arched or pressed into the ground by not moving it.
Hold the position for 5–10 seconds. Allow yourself to unwind. Repetition is essential.
- Start with your hands and toes in a pushup position. If this is too difficult, you should lean on your knees and elbows for support.
- Hold your buttocks in line with your body and draw your belly toward your spine. You should be able to feel all of your abdominal muscles functioning.
For 20–60 seconds, stay in this position.
It’s essential to keep in mind that this exercise places a lot of strain on your spine. If you have back problems, you should avoid doing this workout.
The plank on the foot
- Turn on your side with one foot on top of the other and your elbow on the deck.
- Lift your hip into the air, keeping your hand perpendicular to the ground and relying on your forearm and the side of your foot for support.
- Maintain proper foot, shoulder, and elbow alignment. Hold your shoulder over your elbow as well. The obliques on your lower side should be working.
For 20–60 seconds, stay in this position.
The dog bird
- As if you were a table, kneel on your hands and knees.
- Maintain a flat back by not arching up or dipping in.
- Start by extending one arm in front of you until it is parallel to your head and torso.
Then, in line with your torso and arm, stretch the opposite leg out. If your hips are turned out to the side, make sure they are pointing down toward the floor. You should be able to feel the abdominal and back muscles functioning.
Hold for 5 seconds, then switch arms and legs and repeat.
The Dead Bug
- Lie down on your back, knees bent, and feet flat.
- Tighten your abs and hold your back flat while raising your knees to a 90-degree angle with your hips and knees.
- Tap one toe on the ground and slowly return.
- Extend your arms straight up over your head to raise the difficulty level. Reach the opposite arm back overhead as you drop one foot to the ground, holding your lower back on the floor and your ribs pulled in.
- Extend your leg as far as you can while maintaining a flat back.
- Return to your original place and swap sides.
- Lie down on your back, legs bent.
- Squeeze your buttocks and raise them off the ground while keeping your trunk and pelvis together.
- Keep for a total of five seconds.
- Relax and place your trunk on the ground. Repetition is essential.
Also read: How to enhance core strength in men
What is the purpose of the core?
Stabilization, balance, breathing, and bowel and bladder control are all functions of your core.
You use the core in a number of everyday situations. There are some of them:
1. Sitting: Sit up straight, not arched, with your back straight. Suck the stomach button onto your spine. You may also tighten your stomach as though you’re about to be punched in the stomach.
2. Relax your abs, elbows, and neck by breathing deeply: Inhale slowly, allowing your stomach to push outward gently. Reduce the amount your shoulders rise (or shrug) toward your face, as this indicates that you’re breathing with accessory shoulder and neck muscles.
3. Cardio: Cardiovascular exercises entail various motions in various directions, all of which engage the heart.
4. Yoga: This common form of exercise incorporates core movements such as planks, bridges, and side planks, as well as balancing on one or both feet in poses such as Tree Pose and Warrior Pose.
Contracting your trunk muscles to protect your trunk in static positions and during dynamic movements of the extremities is what it means to engage your heart. Balance, lifting, moving, pulling, and general exercise are all performed by these muscles.
A solid core will help you maintain your balance, reduce your risk of injury, and protect your spine through strenuous movements.