The Best Core-Strengthening Exercises After Age 40
As you age, taking the good with the bad is essential. The fact of the matter is, increasing your strength and losing body fat becomes increasingly challenging the older you get. According to MedlinePlus, your muscle tissue begins to break down as early as age 30. But don't let that dampen your spirits. Regardless of your age, you can still do exercises that help keep you strong and lean, especially when it comes to your core. That's why we chatted with Kate Meier, CPT, a certified personal trainer with Garage Gym Reviews, who shares four of her favorite core-strengthening exercises after 40.
Having a solid core benefits your overall health in several ways. Research reveals that a strong midsection can reduce lower back pain, increase core stability, enhance athletic performance, improve balance and posture, and help prevent injury. Maintaining core strength becomes increasingly important as you age since your body naturally loses muscle mass and strength (a condition called sarcopenia). In addition, a strong core makes most physical activities easier to do and can serve as a foundation for reaching other fitness goals, says the Mayo Clinic.
"As we age, injury prevention becomes a key part of training—not that it should be ignored by fitness enthusiasts of any age," says Meier. "Core strength is a crucial component of overall fitness and injury prevention because a solid core is the base of most exercises and day-to-day life."
Read on for Meier's top four core-strengthening exercises after 40. And, when you're through, check out The #1 Strength Workout to Reshape Your Body After 40.
This low-impact core exercise offers other benefits besides strengthening your core. According to Healthline, bird dogs can help reduce lower back pain and increase stability.
To do the exercise, get down on all fours while ensuring your hands are under your shoulders and your knees are below your hips. "Engage your core as you reach your right hand straight out in front of you and simultaneously extend your left leg straight back," instructs Meier. "Bring your arm and leg back toward the center and touch your right elbow to your left knee. Alternate sides with each rep."
Aim to do three rounds of 15 to 20 reps per side.
This classic core movement will target your obliques for an all-around firmer midsection. You can perform this exercise with a medicine ball, your free weight of choice, or without any added weight.
"Start seated on a mat with your legs in front of you and knees bent. Next, lean back slightly, keeping your shoulder back and spine neutral. Next, lift your legs off the floor, keeping your knees bent. Finally, either clasp your hands together in front of you or hold a weight as you slowly rotate your torso from left to right," says Meier.
For a solid ab burn, do three rounds of 20 reps (Note: Each side-to-side rotation counts as one rep).
The glute bridge is an ultra-effective core-strengthening exercise. Plus, it can help lift your butt by sculpting your glutes. In addition, glute bridges can boost stability and enhance your form when doing other activities, according to WebMD.
"For a standard bridge, lie on your back on a mat. Engage your core and glutes to raise your hips while keeping your hands at your sides on the mat. Once your hips are fully raised, slowly lower back down to the starting position and repeat," says Meier.
Perform three rounds of 15 to 20 reps.
Despite the countless plank variations available, nothing beats the classic plank for adding core strength. Plus, according to the Cleveland Clinic, consistently doing plank exercises can help you avoid injuries, strengthen your lower back, and enhance posture.
"Get down on all fours on a mat and make sure your hands, elbows, and shoulders are aligned. Next, step your feet back until your body forms a straight line from shoulders to ankles. Next, lower down onto your elbows and keep your body aligned. Then, hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds or longer before relaxing, depending on your fitness level," explains Meier.
Aim for three rounds of 30 to 60-second holds.
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