10 Tips For Starting a Core Strengthening Program

Follow these rules for a safe core exercise program.

Woman getting ready to exchange in a core fitness program.

One way to keep your workouts safe is to make sure you are using proper technique throughout the exercise program.

© RealPeopleGroup| Getty Images

Before you begin an exercise program, you should be aware of guidelines that will make your workouts productive and safe. The suggestions that follow come from weight training experts, hospitals, universities, and organizations, including the American College of Sports Medicine.

  1. Get the approval of your doctor before beginning an exercise program. Among the health issues that might restrict or prohibit a core fitness program are:
    • history of heart disease or respiratory conditions
    • current use of prescription medications
    • surgery or bone/muscle/tendon/ligament problems that might be aggravated by exercise
    •  any other related health or physical issue
    •  a previously sedentary lifestyle among females age 50 and older and males age 40 and older
  2. Wear comfortable, loose-fitting nylon clothing that wicks moisture (perspiration) away from your body.Wear properly fitted athletic shoes that provide traction and lateral support. Also wear dry-fit socks to avoid blisters and chafing.
  3. Use proper technique. If you are not sure how to perform an exercise, get a physical therapist or athletic trainer to teach you.
  4. Maintain good posture by keeping a neutral spine position.
  5. Vary your exercise routine and seek a balance between muscle groups—left side/right side or front/back.
  6. Don’t hold your breath. Breathe out as you lift; breathe in as you lower a weight.
  7. Develop a workout tempo. Don’t jerk or move quickly. Stay in control.
  8. Listen to your body. If something hurts, stop, and try it again a few days later.
  9. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water before, during, and after exercise.
  10. Give your body time to recover after vigorous exercise—48 hours between core fitness workouts that involve the same muscle group.

What is a repetition (rep)?

A repetition, or rep—the number of times you perform an exercise.

What is a set?

A set is a group or series of the same kind of exercise. For example, one set of five modified push-up includes doing five pushups before stopping.

How much is enough?

Use a weight or other type of resistance you can lift, push, pull, or move 8-12 times while using good form. Complete one set of 8-12 repetitions before resting when you are beginning a program, then add 2-3 sets as you get stronger and more accustomed to the workout. Gradually, add resistance (2-3 pounds) when you can perform 12 reps in two consecutive sets with good form. How often? Perform core resistance-training exercises 3-4 non-consecutive days per week.

For more information about strengthening your core muscles, buy Easy Exercises For Core Fitness from University Health News.

As a service to our readers, University Health News offers a vast archive of free digital content. Please note the date published or last update on all articles. 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.

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Jim Brown, PhD

As a former college professor of health education, Jim Brown brings a unique perspective to health and medical writing. He has authored 14 books on health, medicine, fitness, and sports. … Read More

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