One of the most often overlooked sections of the human physique in relation to martial arts is the midsection — your core muscles which connect your upper and lower body. It is extremely important because, whatever physical activity you choose to undertake, the necessary motions either originate in your core or move through it.
In this regard, it makes your core one of the most important parts to develop as a martial artist. A weak or inflexible midsection can impair how well your arms and legs function. Conversely, a strong core can improve your athletic performance, enhance the power and speed you generate, and fortify your defense.
Building up your core gives you more energy to perform physical activity, as well as help with your balance and stability. Furthermore, training the core is essential to weight loss and muscle toning, giving you a leaner, meaner physique.
The muscles involved in core strength training include the muscles in the abdomen, hips, back, and chest.
It is important to take some time out each day to train your core. Here are a few examples to help you along your way.
Today, Evolve Daily shares five different exercises to help strengthen your core so that you can become a better martial artist.
1) Jumping Oblique Twists
Improving core strength results not just in improving the way your midsection looks, but also gives you improved posture, better balance, reduced back pain, and easier breathing.
One of the best ways to train your core is by performing jumping oblique twists. This particular exercise not only trains your core, but also adds explosiveness to your legs and enhances your balance.
Stand with your feet together with your arms stretched out to the sides in line with your shoulders. Jump while rotating your hips to the left and then to the right. Do this for about a minute.
Obliques or the muscles that run up your sides are part of your body’s core and are engaged in every bend and twist you make. Your oblique muscles work to stabilize your body. They are your body’s pillars.
2) Leg Lifts
Another of the most often overlooked section of the core muscles is the lower abdominal area. This is the muscle group which directly stimulates and connects to your legs, allowing better movement and footwork.
Footwork, of course, is essential to your striking and essential to being a good martial artist. In this regard, leg lifts definitely come in handy.
By performing leg lifts, you are specifically targeting the lower abdominal area. In addition to your crunches, leg lifts should be a staple to your core workout.
Lie on your back with your arms to your sides. Raise both legs upwards to a 45-degree angle while raising your glutes and then slowly back down. Repeat the motion for a minute.
Leg lifts target lower abs and hip muscles and are effective in building muscles in the front of your body.
Chances are, you’ve already heard about planks and how they work wonders in building a strong core. It’s time to revisit this amazingly simple but incredibly effective workout.
Performing planks helps to stimulate the stabilizing muscles in the core which give you better balance. Furthermore, planks help in regulating energy expenditure, giving you a stronger diaphragm and enhances breathing.
While in the prone position, rest on your forearms forming a straight line with your body with legs straight and slightly apart. Contract the muscles in your torso while holding this position.
Start by holding this position for about 30 seconds and aim to hold it for about a minute as you progress each day.
There are other variations to doing planks, so experiment with those that you like and make sure planks are a part of your core workout.
4) Side Bends
Another great workout that targets the obliques are side bends. These can be performed with or without a light weight in each hand. Side bends also help fortify your stabilizing muscles, which again gives you better balance.
With better balance, of course, you gain better movement and footwork. And when you take a punch or a kick, you are less likely to fall over because of your strong base.
Stand up straight with your feet at shoulder width. With back straight and head up, slowly bend waist to the right as far as you are able to. Breathe in as you bend to your side. Exhale as you come back up. Repeat the movement to the left side. Do this for about a minute.
Side bends lengthen the abdominal muscles, hips, and thigh muscles while improving flexibility in the spine. It also stretches the muscles between the ribs.
5) Flutter Kicks
Last but certainly not the least, this workout engages the entire core. It’s called flutter kicks and is one of the more challenging core workouts you can try.
Make no mistake about it, performing flutter kicks is one of the most challenging core workouts available, and many martial artists specifically perform this to turn their midsection into granite rock.
Lie on your back with your hands to your sides. Keep your legs together extended forward. Raise left and right leg alternately. Do this for about 10 seconds followed by 5 seconds of rest before continuing.
You may also crisscross the legs for variation. Flutter kicks reshape and tone your lower body. They help you shed the extra fat from the belly, hips, and thighs.
Keep in mind however that it’s only difficult in the beginning. Once you get the hang of it, and once your core gets stronger, flutter kicks will gradually become easier to execute.
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