Hey guys (and gals), last week I showed you 5 tests you could try to see if your core was where it needed to be, in terms of strength and stability. Well, how did you do? I’m assuming that many of you realized that there was some room for improvement in regards to this topic and that’s why you are here. I commend you for your desire to get healthy and become a better you in the physical sense!
Years ago, people used to rely on the old, traditional crunch, with a couple of outdated assistance movements, but the fitness industry and training methods have come a long way since then. I am going to show you 10 exercises, that if practiced properly and diligently, will guarantee you a stronger core.
This was a movement that was used in the test last week. Get into a push-up position, toes on the floor. Now slowly lower your body weight onto your elbows, tucking them under your body. Making sure to keep your back straight, hold this position for as long as you can.
When your body begins to tremble, you know you are doing it right! When you can’t hold it any longer drop down and relaxe. Count to 10 slowly, do it again. This is what is known as “Rest/Pause” and it is proven to be one of the most effective ways to strengthen muscle fibers.
- Side Plank
This was also used as an indicator of core strength last week. Place your weight onto your elbow/forearm and stack your feet on top of each other. Hold this as long as you can, rest for 10 seconds, repeat.
Lie on your back with your arms and legs extended. Keep your limbs locked and simultaneously raise them, try to touch your toes. Do these to failure, rest and repeat.
- Reverse Crunch
Lie flat on the floor, keeping the small of your back pressed down. Place your arms out to the sides, palms down. Cross your feet at the ankles, now lift them to the ceiling. Hold this position, slowly lower to the stating position, do them until you can’t do anymore. Rest and repeat.
- Flutter Kicks
Lay on your back, plave your hands under your glutes and lift your shoulders off the ground a few inches. Now slowly lift your feet off the ground, no more than 18 inches! Alternately kick your feet. Again, go to failure, rest, repeat. Note: If you want to make these more difficult, put your hands out in front of you as illustrated in this picture!
- Russian Twists
Sit on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Lean back so that your torso is at 45 degrees to the floor. Clench your fists and place them at the side of your head. Now twist as far to the right as you can go, hold it, now go to the left. Slow and controlled! Do the same rep/set scheme as above. A medicine ball is a great way to add a little more resistance!
Lay down on your stomach. Extend your arms straight out in front of you, now lift your arms and legs together about 8-12 inches off the ground. Hold it for a few seconds and slowly lower into the starting position. This movement really works the lower back, which is just as important for the core as your abs. Go to failure.
- Bird Dogs
Balance yourself on your hands and knees. Lift your right arm and left leg, extending them straight out, return to starting position and do the other side. These may take a little getting used to, but once you get the hang of them, they are a great movement to utilize.
- Reach For The Skies
The technical name for this movement is “T-stabilization,” But I think my name is more motivating lol. Get into a push-up position. Now shift your weight onto one hand, and rotate yourself so your hand is pointed to the ceiling, alternate sides. If you want to make this even harder, do a full push-up in between reps!
I know I said that the old crunch was outdated as a primary core movement earlier, but they still have an important place in your routine. Lay on your back and bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the floor. Clench your fists and put them at the sides of your head. Do not lock your fingers behind your neck! This can cause serious injuries. I repeat, Do Not Lock Your Fingers Behind Your Neck! Lift your torso off the ground as high as you can while keeping your feet flat, hold for a few seconds, repeat until failure. Rest 10 seconds and do it again.
These exercises can be done together, or by themselves. Change things up to keep things both fun and challenging. Unlike many other parts of the body that need 48 hours of rest before hitting them again, the abs and core in general can be targeted daily, because they are constantly being used in all of our activities anyways.
Go slow, control your motions, and listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right, or causes excess pain, stop. Check your form. Remember to breathe when you do these exercises! This may sound silly, but many people have a tendency to hold their breath. The general rule is to exhale during the contraction of the movement.
With continued practice and work, you will be on your way to developing a stronger core. Your abs will get tighter and your back aches will subside as the muscles get stronger and lengthen. Be safe, be strong and be happy! Once again, I applaud you for your efforts.Nice job!