Want to get a stronger core to keep yourself fit after 60 but worried sit-ups are straining your neck and back? Here is the good news.
You can build core strength and strong abs without sit-ups.
And that’s actually good for your safety.
If you are looking to tone up your core and abs as an older adult, there is a better way.
There are effective core exercises that recruit and improve your core strength better than dated situps.
Without straining your back, these exercises can help you build better balance, stability, and posture.
Here are 5 core exercises you should be doing for core strength instead of situps.
1. Bird dog
If there is one bodyweight exercise that accomplishes so many things in one move, it’s a bird dog.
The bird dog exercise is a core exercise that strengthens your abs and core, builds balance and stability, and keeps your back strong.
It’s one simple exercise that works to benefit many facets of your fitness and health. It’s a huge loss not to include in your core workouts.
If you are over 60, this exercise is particularly great for your full-body strength, mobility, balance, and flexibility.
By encouraging the use of spinal stabilizing muscles, you help strengthen your back muscles and reduce back pain.
It also helps support proper posture and prevents injury.
It’s an ideal exercise for people of all fitness levels, but it requires some balance and stability to perform well.
If you find it hard to balance on one leg and arm, you can start with just one arm up or one leg up, but not both.
This will help you gradually increase the strength in your core, glutes, back, and hips.
Here is how to perform a bird dog
- Start on all fours on a yoga mat. Your starting position should resemble the tabletop position in yoga with your back straight and your head in.
- Adjust your knees so they are directly under your hips and your hands under your shoulders.
- Brace your core and keep a neutral spine before you start. This helps you avoid curving your back and sagging your hips.
- Raise the right arm straight until it reaches shoulder level. Simultaneously, lift the left leg up straight to your hip level.
- Hold this position for 2 seconds before lowering your arm and leg to return to the starting position.
- Switch sides and raise your left arm and left leg. Hold for 2 seconds before coming back to the starting position. Repeat 8-10 repetitions per side for 2-3 sets.
2. Side Plank
Side plank is one underutilized exercise that works the sides of your abs.
Side abs, also known as obliques are essential in movements like turning, rotating, and reaching.
Without the strength and flexibility in your obliques, it’s easy to experience limited mobility and range of motion.
The side plank exercise also recruits other muscles in the core and back. This is because you need all the posture stabilizing muscles to hold the side plank position.
It’s a great practice for maintaining correct posture and strengthening the spinal stabilizing muscles.
If you find holding a side plank too difficult, you can perform a kneeling side plank.
Here is how to perform a side plank
- On a yoga mat, lie on your left side with your upper body supported by your left forearm. Extend your legs and stack up your feet. Keep your elbows directly below the shoulder and form a straight line from head to the right foot.
- Tighten your core and glutes and make sure your hips are not sagging and your spine is in a neutral position.
- Hold the position for 10-30 seconds before switching sides and repeat.
Plank is a great core workout that requires no movement. You also perform this facedown on your forearms and toes.
It’s beginner-friendly abs and core exercise that involves no bending or curving of your back.
It’s safer for your back, and you can easily adjust this to fit your fitness level.
If you are looking to start with a plank that’s easier, be sure to place your forearms on an elevated surface and make it an incline plank.
Alternatively, you can kneel down in a regular plank rather than supporting your body weight on your toes and forearms.
This reduces the weight your body bears during the exercise and lightens the challenge.
How to perform a plank hold
- Get into a plank position by starting on your all fours. Keep your hands shoulder-width apart and toes slightly narrower than hip-width apart.
- Brace your core and keep your back in a neutral spine position. This prevents your hips from dropping and back from curving during the hold.
- Hold this plank position for 10-30 seconds.
4. Wall Squat
Wall squat is one exercise that’s truly ideal for older adults in building core and full-body strength.
It’s safe for your back and neck, and you can perform this at home with no exercise equipment.
Squats and their variations are great lower body exercises that primarily work the hamstrings, glutes, and hips.
But unlike other squats, wall sits are performed as a holding exercise. This increases the use of your core muscles and helps you strengthen your upper body in addition to the lower body.
It’s one exercise that’s easy to adjust to your fitness level as well.
To start, you can hold the squat position with your back against the wall for as long as you can hold it. If you have weak hamstrings, it’s ok to start with a half squat. Once you are comfortable with it, you can gradually challenge yourself to a full squat where your thighs are parallel to the floor.
Here is how to perform a wall squat
You can perform this exercise anywhere you have access to a flat wall.
- Stand straight against a wall with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Brace your core and slide your back down the wall. Stop when your thighs are parallel to the floor. Your knees should not pass their toes.
- Press the back against the wall and don’t curve your back.
- Hold the squat position for 20-30 seconds before you come up to the starting position.
5. Resistance Band Pallof Press
One pitfall when starting to exercise regularly is that we tend to repeat the same old exercise routines for weeks and months at a time.
It’s completely okay to repeat the same workouts for a period of time to get stronger, learn the forms, and improve balance and such.
There is definitely a time and purpose for that.
But not adding new challenges or mixing up exercises can lead to plateau and stall progress.
From time to time, it’s essential to add new and fresh exercises that work different muscles or the same muscles but from different angles.
This ensures you are covering more muscles and helps build your full-body strength.
This resistance band core exercise is one band workout that adds new challenges and works your core in a different way than planks and squats.
There is the added resistance from an exercise band. The pull and push movements of your arms also bring different benefits to your core workouts than other exercises.
Here is how to perform a resistance band Pallof press
- Set up a resistance band to a sturdy object at your chest level.
- Hold a handle and or the end of the loop band with both hands and stand next to your anchor with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Feel the tension in the band and hold it in front of your chest. Slightly bend your knees and hinge your hips back.
- Brace your core and glutes and press the handle straight out in front of your chest. As you press, don’t let your hips and torso give into the press. Keep your back steady by engaging the core.
- Pause for 1-2 seconds and pull your arms back to the starting position. Repeat for 8-10 repetitions. Switch sides at the next set.