Want a stronger core? Skip the sit-ups

Strengthen your core with planking

Sit-ups once ruled as the way to tighter abs and a slimmer waistline, while “planks” were merely flooring. Now plank exercises, in which you assume a position and hold it, are the gold standard for working your core, while classic sit-ups and crunches have fallen out of favor. Why the shift?

One reason is that sit-ups are hard on your back — they push your curved spine against the floor and work your hip flexors, the muscles that run from the thighs to the lumbar vertebrae in the lower back. When the hip flexors are too strong or too tight, they tug on the lower spine, which can create lower back discomfort.

Second, plank exercises recruit a better balance of muscles on the front, sides, and back of the body during exercise than do sit-ups, which target just a few muscles.

Finally, activities of daily living, as well as sports and recreational activities, call on your muscles to work together, not in isolation. Sit-ups or crunches strengthen just a few muscle groups. Through dynamic patterns of movement, a good core workout like plank exercises helps strengthen the entire set of core muscles you use every day.

STRENGTHEN YOUR CORE in only 5 minutes a day!

Strengthening your core is one of the best things you can do for your health as you age. Core exercises not only help to ease pain, they improve your balance and increase your flexibility, which can help you maintain your independence.

Core Exercises brings you five complete workouts — each with seven exercises — that you can do on your own with little or no equipment. Each workout is specially designed to help make doing everyday tasks, and playing sports like tennis and golf easier. If you are interested in learning these Core Exercises send us an email and we can send you more information.

You’ll get over 100 tips for improving your core muscle strength, including:

  • Why traditional sit-ups aren’t good for your core — they can even cause low-back pain
  • A trick to getting the biggest bang for your health buck with core exercises
  • 2 simple steps for six-pack abs
  • How a strong core helps you move more easily and helps keep you steady on uneven ground
  • Why you need a strong core if you sit at your desk all day
  • And more.

How Good is Your Balance? Try this test now. 

Start by standing comfortably near the wall, holding your arms in any position you choose. Lift one foot an inch or two off the floor so that you are balancing on the other foot. Time how long you can do this before having to put the raised foot down or touch the wall for support.

If you can’t stand on one leg unassisted, lightly touch the wall or hold the back of a chair with one or both hands for support. Use less support as you improve your balance. If you can hold this single leg stance for 60 seconds or more, you have excellent balance. If you can’t hold it for more than 10 seconds, you could be at risk for a fall. If so, get a copy of Core Exercises and ask your doctor for more ways you can improve your balance and prevent falls.


No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.