Wednesday Workout Tip: Strengthen your core
I’ve touched on the importance of working and maintaining a strong core in previous posts. Having a strong core improves your balance, posture, and helps to reduce lower back pain (that is only if you incorporate exercises that work your lower back muscles).
This is an easy core workout that can be accomplished in 15 minutes or less.
1. Knee fold tuck – Sit tall, hands on floor, knees bent, squeezing a playground ball between them (I use a towel). Lift your knees of the ground and extend your arms. Pull knees towards shoulders, keeping that upper body still. Bring knees back to starting position. Repeat 15-20 times.
2. Climbing rope – Sit with legs extended and feet turned out in a V position, toes pointed. Contract core muscles and roll spine into a C-curve. Lift your arms and move them as if you were climbing a rope. Twist slightly each time you reach. Do 20 reaches with each arm. I love this exercise and it is a great core workout as it engages your back and abdominal muscles.
3. Side balance crunch – Begin with left knee and left hand on the the floor (like your about to do a side plank). Extend your right arm up towards the ceiling and your right leg straight out away from the body (not up, as that would be pretty darn awkward). Pull right knee toward torso and right elbow toward knee. Straighten arm and leg. Repeat 10-15 times, then switch sides. You must remember to engage your abs while performing these motions.
4. Circle plank – Start in a plank position with abs tight. Pull right knee in and circle it clockwise, then counterclockwise. Keep the rest of your body stationary. Repeat 5-10 times and then switch legs. If you struggle with this, just work on perfecting the plank. Make sure that your hands are below your shoulders and that your butt is in line with your back and legs.
5. Fish flops – Lie down on your stomach and extend your arms out in front. Bring your legs together. At the same time, lift your arms and legs slightly off the ground using both your abdominal and lower back muscles. If you don’t regularly work your lower back do about 5-8 repititions to start. You can increase the number slowly and always remember to stretch your back afterwards.
6. Sliding plank – Begin in a plank position on an uncarpeted floor, hands under shoulders and a towel under feet. With legs straight, raise hips and draw legs toward hands into a pike position – your feet should slide easily (this is only if you have an 8-pack – I had to really work to bring my legs into this position). Hold for one count, then return to start. Repeat 10 times.
7. Oblique crunch – Sit on the floor with legs in front and knees bent. Lean back slightly so that your back forms a 45 degree angle with the floor (or as far back as you feel comfortable). Put your hands up and behind your ears. Twist your upper back from the right and then to the left while engaging your abdominal muscles. Try to do this 15 times per side.
8. Stretch, stretch, stretch. Make sure you stretch out your lower back. This can be accomplished by touching your toes (or lower parts of your leg if you’re like me). Try to stretch out your hip flexors, hamstrings, and abs as well. I will talk more about stretching next week, but do a quick internet search to find some goodies.
Happy hump day!