After the total body exercises of Throw in a Towel Workout: Part 1, *let’s now focus more on the core. Your core is all the muscles between your hips and shoulders and you use your core with every activity that you do.
How your core muscles move your body:
- front of your torso (rectus abdominis): spinal flexion
- back of your torso (spinal erectors): extension of spine
- sides of the waist (obliques muscles): rotation and lateral flexion
- deepest layer of your core (transverse abs): stabilization of spine
Back to the workout:
Same rules apply as Part 1, all you need in order to do this workout is a hand towel. Pull the towel apart and keep your chest open and shoulders retracted. Abdominals stay pulled in tight. All 10 exercises below are done slow and with control.
1. Overhead (OH) Side Bends with Balance
Targets hips and sides of the waist (obliques).
- Stand on your right leg with arms overhead.
- Side bend toward your left (though you will feel it on the right side of the torso and hip).
- Keep length through both sides of your waist.
- Perform 12-25 reps on the right leg; switch.
2. Kneeling Lean
Targets total core – all muscles between shoulders and legs.
- Start from a kneeling position. You may need extra cushioning for your knees.
- Lean back as far as possible keeping your body in a straight line (photo A) . Keep your abs in tight and squeeze your glutes. Don’t push your hips back.
- To make the exercise harder, bring your arms overhead as you lean back (photo B).
- For variety, twist your torso to the side (photo C).
- Perform 12-25 reps.
3. Jump Rope Sit Ups
Targets front muscles of the torso (rectus abdominals).
- Lie on your back with your arms straight up towards the ceiling and knees up.
- Pull your knees in tight as you crunch and pretend like you are going to jump rope by pulling your feet over the towel.
- Reverse the motion by pulling your knees under the towel.
- Even though photo shows with shoes on, it is easier with shoes off. If you still can’t get feet through towel, perform same exercise without a towel.
- Repeat for 12-24 reps.
4. Towel Teaser
Targets front of the torso (rectus abdominals).
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and heels digging into the floor.
- Crunch up as high as you can.
- If you can go up to the full crunch, lift your chest at the top of the move and bring your arms back by your ears.
- Return to the floor SLOWLY.
- Repeat for 12-25 reps.
5. Cross-Chop Sit Ups
Targets the sides of the waist (obliques).
- Lie on your back with your knees bent, heels digging into the floor, and arms out in front of you.
- Twist up as high as possible reaching your towel towards the outside of your knee, ankle, or foot.
- You can use a little momentum on the way up as you “chop” your arms to the side, but return back down slowly.
- Repeat for 12 – 24 reps and switch sides.
6. Clamshell Crunches
Targets front of the torso (rectus abdominals).
- From a seated position, pull your abs in as tight as possible – 100%.
- Pull your knees in by contracting your abs even tighter and rounding into a tight ball.
- Slowly release and repeat for 8-15 reps.
- If you tend to have lower back issues, OMIT THIS EXERCISE.
- You must keep your abs contracted in through the entire motion.
7. One Leg Crunch & Reach
Targets hips and front of torso.
- Lie on your back with your right leg up towards the ceiling (as straight as flexibility allows).
- Also if flexibility allows, extend your left leg straight. Otherwise, just keep your left knee bent and foot flat on the floor.
- Loop the towel around your foot- barely pulling on the towel for this exercise.
- Perform 12-25 mini crunches; switch legs and repeat sequence.
8. One Leg Cross Crunch & Reach
Targets hips, front (rectus abdominals), and sides (obliques).
- Follow above sequence of #7.
- Perform 12-25 mini crunches, twisting your ribcage and reaching for the inside of your foot.
- Switch legs and repeat.
9. Dead Bug
Targets all the muscles of your core.
- Lie on your back with your arms and legs straight up towards the ceiling.
- Keep your abs in tight as you lower your arms and one leg.
- Only lower as far as you can – keeping your lower back on the floor.
- Return back up slowly; alternating legs for 8-24 reps.
- To make the exercise harder, lower both legs together.
Targets your back muscles (spinal erectors).
- Lie on your stomach with your legs extended out straight and abs in tight.
- Keep pressing your shoulders down away from your ears as you lift your upper body up with control, hyperextending the spine.
- Breathe and slowly lower back down.
- Repeat sequence for 8-24 reps.
- For variety, try alternating a slight twist side to side.
Stay tuned for part 3 tomorrow – towel stretches to increase muscular flexibility!
*Consult your physician before starting any new exercise program.