Having a strong core is more important than you realize!
Your core includes your abs, upper legs and back. The main muscles are the obliques, abdominals, lower back and the gluteus. Having strong core muscles will help with more than giving you sizzling-looking abs. They are responsible for your posture and movement. Here is a list of some other benefits:
- It will prevent lower back pain and injury. Most lower back injuries are from weak core muscles.
- It will help improve your overall physical performance. So the stronger these babies are the easier everything else will be.
- Improves balance
- Helps you maintain your independence later in life.
I have included some simple and VERY effective exercises that you can do in less than 15 minutes right in your living room!
Equipment: A mat or a towel to protect you back.
Dynamic warm up: While standing, lift your right leg as high as it is comfortable and if you can, extend your left arm and touch your toes, repeat with the left leg and right arm as quickly as you can, repeat and do 5-10 for each side.
- The Bicycle
- Lie face up on your mat and place your hands behind your head, lightly supporting it with your fingers.
- Bring the knees in to the chest and lift the shoulder blades off the floor without pulling on the neck.
- Rotate to the left, bringing the right elbow towards the left knee as you straighten the other leg.
- Switch sides, bringing the left elbow towards the right knee.
- Continue alternating sides in a ‘pedaling’ motion for 1-3 sets of 12-16 reps.
- Lie face up on an exercise mat with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Press through your heels to raise your hips from the mat until your body forms a straight line from your neck to your knees.
- Hold for one count before you slowly lower back to the mat.
- Repeat for three sets of 15 reps.
Note: For an extra bonus, when you lower your butt toward the ground, stop just before touching the floor and squeeze.
- Heel to Toe Crunch
- Lie on your back with your legs extended; stack your feet and extend one arm towards the ceiling.
- Lift your shoulders from the floor slowly; keeping your eyes on the ceiling as you move. Pause, then slowly return to the start.
- When you are through, reverse the position of your feet and repeat with your opposite arm extended.
- Repeat for three sets of 15 reps
Note: This is a small movement; don’t allow your upper back to lift higher than necessary.
- Lie face down on mat resting on the forearms, palms flat on the floor.
- Push off the floor, raising up onto toes and resting on the elbows.
- Keep your back flat, in a straight line from head to heels.
- Tilt your pelvis and contract your abdominals to prevent your rear end from sticking up in the air or sagging in the middle.
- Hold for 20 to 60 seconds, lower and repeat for 3-5 reps.
Note: Do Not hold your breath! Focus on breathing in and out.
- Reverse Crunch
- Lie on the floor and place hands on the floor or behind the head.
- Bring the knees in towards the chest until they’re bent to 90 degrees, with feet together or crossed.
- Contract the abs to curl the hips off the floor, reaching the legs up towards the ceiling.
- Lower and repeat for 1-3 sets of 12-16 reps.
- It’s a very small movement, so try to use your abs to lift your hips rather than swinging your legs and creating momentum.
March 24th, 2012