When thinking of your core most people automatically think… abs? Well in part they are correct but when considering training your core you must look at what you are trying to achieve. In MMA strengthening of the core is extremely important for not on your ability on “offence” to strike and grapple, but strengthening your core is also used in defense.
This “defense” also refers to “Abdominal Bracing”. Bracing helps protect your vital organs inside your trunk, and provide stability to your spine as well. This is is done by strengthening your abs, oblique’s, transverse abdominals, as well as your erector spinae and intercostal muscles.
Exercises to help strengthen core and increase ability to brace:
The Plank is a popular static exercise (one your hold). This exercise is executed by laying flat on your stomach with your elbows under your shoulders and your hand apart. Lift your hips so you form a straight line from your heels right to the top of your head. This exercise can be held for 30sec-5minutes depending on your fitness level. This should be completed for 3-5 sets with 90 seconds rest between sets. (Tip: Engage your glutes (butt) if you feel or see your hips sagging.)
2. Side Planks
Side plank is very similar to your normal plank but it helps work your lateral (left and right) aspects of your core/spinal muscles. This exercise is performed on your side with your elbow on the ground and your feet stacked and one side of your foot on the ground (see picture). This exercise can be held for 30sec-5minutes depending on your fitness level. This should be completed for 3-5 sets with 90 seconds rest between sets. (Tip: Do not let your hips sag down, maintain straight line from feet to shoulders.)
The superman is an exercise that primarily helps strengthen the posterior (back) side of your trunk, as well as your glutes (butt). It is started by laying flat on your stomach with your arms extended in front of you. As your lay, you will engage your erector spinae (lower back) muscles, your glutes (butt) and retract your shoulder blades with your trapezius (bring shoulder blades together). Thrust your hips toward the ground. This will raise your heels and your hands toward the ceiling. Hold this for 1 second and release to starting position. That counts as 1 repetition. Complete this exercise fo 12-15 reps with 60 seconds rest in between sets and repeat for 3-5 sets.
These are all exercises that can be completed at home and no equipment is needed. Aim to do these types of workouts twice per week allowing the body 72 hours to recover. This can be done while watching TV so there is no excuse not to do them!
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