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How to Turn Any Exercise into an Amazing Core Exercise

Most people at some point have dreamed about having six pack abs and tried to force them to emerge by doing endless sit-ups and planks to no avail. Or maybe someone told you along the line that doing core exercises will help your back pain but ab roll-outs just seem to make it worse…


We know these exercises can suck to do, they’re boring and for some people they may even hurt them.


This week’s 2 minute tip is all about how you can boycott traditional ‘core exercises’ and why you should care about training your core for more than aesthetics!


Watch Dr. Rob show you how to hack your workout and engage your entire core without doing a single sit- up.


Your core is one of your most important muscle groups. It keeps your body stable, it keeps you from falling over and it protects your spine.


Your core is the important link that connects your upper body to your lower body. Any movement, like reaching to pick up a glass of water on your desk or pushing a door closed with your foot, start in that area and ripple up or down through your core. If your core is weak your body may not be able to handle these forces.


Having a solid core makes it easy to do every day activities like reaching for a plate on a high shelf, picking up your toddler off the floor, or staying upright when someone bumps into you in a crowded area.  Strong core muscles are also important for sports like running, softball, golf, and more!

A weak core also means you’re more susceptible to back injuries during sports AND your regular day to day life.


One of the most common examples we see is someone at home who tries to pick up a pillow off the floor or a couch and BAM out goes their back. Then they come in saying, “I wasn’t doing anything! I picked up a pillow!”


This type of injury happens because of a weak core! Your spine is super flexible but without muscles to help support the spine it can buckle and cause pain. This is the sensation of your back ‘going out’. A part of your spine moved that shouldn’t have moved and now your other muscles are spasming to make sure that area doesn’t move again. This causes even more pain and then you end up in our office!


So how do you strengthen your core so this won’t happen to you?


While the first few core exercises that come to most people’s minds are; sit-ups, planks, or maybe high school fitness testing that traumatized us all….

BUT like Dr. Rob said, these aren’t the only options for core exercises!


If you hate planks and ab roll-outs because they hurt your back then we have other options for you! These exercises will help you bulletproof your core and you (hopefully) won’t hate doing them!


Suitcase Carry/ Farmer Carry:

Suitcase Carry Exercise

  ◆ Grab a dumbell that is heavy but that you can control without drooping to that side while you hold it.
◆ Hold the dumbell or kettlebell in one hand and walk 10-20 steps
◆ Turn around and walk back
◆ Switch hands and repeat.
 ◆ Do this 3x on each side.
You should feel your abs engaging on the opposite side you’re holding the weight.

If you’re feeling like this is too easy bring the weight up by your shoulder or grab a heavier weight!



You can even sneak core exercises into your regular gym routine by doing exercises unilaterally. Only holding a   weight on one side forces you to activate your core.


Some of our favourites include:


Single Arm Cable Press

cable Press










Single Leg Deadlift

Single Leg Deadlift










Kneeling Overhead Press

Overhead Press








Dumbell Bench Row

Dumbell Row









When you’re doing all of these exercises make sure to keep your back neutral and to not cheat by twisting your core to get more power!
Start with low weights, go slow and focus on form before increasing your weight.


Want personalized tips on how YOU can improve your core strength and endurance?  Come in and see one of our awesome chiropractors or physiotherapists and get assessed!


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