You’ve probably heard it before, but having a strong core is so important! A strong core can decrease all kinds of pain, as well as aid in maintaining good posture, balance, and stability. It also helps facilitate movement of the upper and lower body. In other words, you want to train to achieve this! I love training core with both my clients and myself because of all the benefits.
We are all familiar with classic crunches which have their place, however there are additional exercises that are so effective. The key to all these exercises is to engage the core the whole time. What do I mean by that? Actively draw the navel into the spine and “make a muscle” with the abs. Another example of engaging the core is tensing up your body in anticipation of the punch to the stomach! Sounds odd but I think you’ll catch my drift. 🙂
Read and watch to learn about my 5 fave core exercises!
1.Heel Taps – these are awesome because they target those lower abs that can be tough to work! Lie flat on your back, tabletop your legs by making your shins parallel to the ground, and push your entire spine into the ground. Alternate straightening one leg and tapping the heel lightly on the ground before returning to the starting position. Exhale through the mouth as the heel taps on the ground and inhale through the mouth as you bring the knee back up to tabletop starting position. Don’t forget to continuously eliminate any lower back arch by pressing the lower back into the ground like crazy!
2.Cross Body Mountain Climbers – I love doing these slow cousins to regular, faster mountain climbers because they not only slay the core but they also get the glutes involved, too. Begin in a pushup position with wrists under the shoulders, arms straight with a slight bend in the elbows. Bend your right knee under your body and bring it to touch the left elbow and hold this position for just a moment. Then, return the knee straight back out to meet the other one in starting position. Repeat on other side. Make sure that each time you hit that starting pushup position you are drawing the bellybutton into the spine and also tightening the booty. One last note is to exhale through the mouth each time you bring your knee to your elbow and then inhale through the nose as you return to starting pushup position.
3.Slow Bicycles – these are not your regular bicycle crunches! The big difference between these bicycles and the typical ones is that the default position for the legs is straightened out, not with knees bent into the chest. Start by pressing your whole spine into the ground with your legs straight up above the hips and then lower the legs to a point where you can maintain a flat back with zero lower back arch. Place your hands behind your ears with elbows pointing out. Bring your left knee into your chest while you simultaneously twist your upper body to the left and attempt to connect the left knee with your right elbow. Exhale through the mouth as you connect and actively eliminate lower back arch. Hold this for a count, then straighten left leg back out to meet the right and return your upper body to starting position as you inhale through the nose. Repeat on other side and be sure to keep the whole back glued to the floor!
4.Up-Down Plank – start in a strong plank position with the forearms down, elbows under the shoulders, and core and glutes engaged. While trying to avoid twisting your torso to the right side and then the left, straighten your right arm and then left arms so that you’re now in a pushup position. After holding this position for a beat and keeping everything solid, carefully bend your right arm and then left arm so that you return to a forearm plank. I like to alternate sides so that I come up on the right arm, then down on the right arm. Then I come up on the left arm, and down on the left arm, etc. These planks are also good for beginners because instead of putting your weight on your forearms and toes, you can put your weight on your forearms and knees!
5.Inner Thigh Pulses – You get 2 for one with these by working both the core and the inner thighs! Lie flat on your back with your legs extended towards the sky then lower them to a point where you can still press your whole spine into the ground. Flex your feet, turn your toes outward, then cross one foot in front of the other for 2 small pulses and repeat with the other foot. Remember to eliminate any lower back arch in order to really work the lower core!
And….surprise, there’s one more bonus core exercise!
Side In + Outs – sit with your legs extended out in front of you, hands behind, with fingertips facing your body. Maintain a straight spine as your lift your legs straight out in front of you. Turn the lower half of your body to the right as you bring your bodyweight up onto the right glute and bring both knees into your chest. Repeat on other side. Exhale through the mouth as you bring the knees to your body and inhale as you extend them back out.
So there are the top core exercises that I’m loving right now! What are your favorite ways to work the core?
Laissez les bons temps roulez et bonne santé,
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