You use your core with every single activity that you do. You bend, extend, and twist your spine in many directions. It is important to keep all the muscles between your hips and shoulders (core) as strong and as stable as possible.
Core Exercise Rules:
- Abominals contracted in, chest open, and shoulders retracted and depressed.
- Create as much length through the sides of your waist as possible.
- Keep your head in a neutral position (don’t look up or drop your head down with any of the exercises).
- Don’t use momentum! “Muscle” up and resist yourself as you go back down controlling the movement.
*Get your core fit with these 7 exercises below:
1. Heel to Toe Cross Sit Ups
- Lie on your back with your legs extended out long.
- Place your right heel on top of your left toes.
- With your abdominals pulled in, twist your upper body (ribcage) towards the right.
- Perform 15-25 cross sit ups to the right: repeat on the other side.
- If you feel a strain in your lower back, just bend both knees and have your feet flat on the floor.
2. Frog Crunches
- Lie on your back with your feet together and knees pointed out (like a frog).
- Without pulling on your neck, crunch up as high as you can. This will pull the ribcage down towards your hips.
- Don’t let your abs “pooch” out, keep them pulled in tight.
- Perform 15-25 slow and controlled crunches.
- Again, if you feel a strain in your lower back or through your hips, just have your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
3. Crossed Ankle Reverse Curls
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your right ankle over your left.
- Press your arms and shoulders down into the floor.
- Retract your lower abdominals in to bring your knees into your chest.
- Do not use any momentum (don’t swing your legs) – this is a super small move.
- Keep your feet close to your butt throughout the entire move and don’t raise your shoulders off the mat.
- Perform 10-15 reps with the right ankle over, then repeat with the left leg crossed over.
4. Back Extensions (with Optional Leg Lifts)
- Lie on your stomach with your hands on your forehead and your legs extended long.
- Keep contracting your abs (even though you are on your stomach) and press your shoulders down away from your ears.
- Raise your upper body off the floor and keep your head in a neutral position.
- Optional: Now raise your legs (lifting from your hips) with your knees straight.
- Slowly lower back down. Repeat 15-25 repetitions.
5. Side Plank from Knees (also called Modified Side Plank)
- Lie on your side with your hips and knees stacked.
- Elbow is directly under the shoulder and press your shoulder down away from your ear.
- Lift your hips up and keep lifting the lower ribcage by engaging the lower oblique.
- Hold the position up to a minute; repeat on the other side.
6. Plank with Alternating Knee Tap Downs
- Hold a plank position with elbows directly under shoulders.
- Tap your right knee to the floor lightly without moving your hips.
- Raise your right knee back up and alternate knee tap downs from side to side for one minute.
- To make this exercise easier, start with both knees down and slowly extend one leg straight instead (alternating sides).
7. Tabletop Hip Lifts (with Optional Knee Lift)
- From a seated position, slowly raise hips up as high as possible.
- Optional: From this raised (reverse) tabletop position, lift one knee as high as possible without lowering your hips. Lower foot back down to the floor.
- Lower hips down barely touching the floor; repeat sequence for 15-25 reps.
You can do 1-3 sets of all the exercises in a circuit format. Circuit just means you are going though one set of all the exercises without any breaks. After you go through all the exercises once, take a 45-60 second recovery, and then you can repeat the circuit 1-2 more times.
*Consult your physician before starting any new exercise program.