Hello SOTGC community,
As the winter months start to taper off (hopefully) and hints of warmer months spring up around us, we suddenly realize, summer is not far off. Maybe you’ve strayed from your New Year’s resolution or maybe you’re moving full steam ahead.
No matter where you are with your training, it’s helpful to get back to basics that set you up for success down the road (read: prepare for bikini season). One of the basics that I always refer back to is core strength. Your abdominals are NOT your only core muscles. Your core muscles actually include your abdominals, your back muscles, shoulders and hips. What we know as “the core” are all the muscles that keep your torso stable and allow your limbs to move safely and efficiently.
Recognizing that everyone is at a different level and in a different place, here are my suggestions for some basic core exercises. Perform each of the following exercises with control for 45 seconds, then rest 15 seconds and transition to the next one. Go through these once then continue with your regular workout (or perform them after your workout) or repeat three times for a solo core session when you don’t have time for a longer workout.
1 – Prone cobras – Start the series off with a movement to work on your posture. Lie face down, with your palms facing the floor. Activate your glutes, pinch shoulder blades together and lift chest off the floor for 1-2 seconds. Your thumbs should point up to the ceiling and your eyes should be looking at the ground keeping a neutral neck.
2 – Glute bridge – Next, turn over on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Keep palms facing up, shoulders down and relaxed away from your ears. Focus on squeezing your glutes from the start of the movement, pushing your hips up slowly, pausing and then back down to the ground with control.
3 – The dead bug – Starting on your back, extend your arms straight to the ceiling so they are directly above your shoulders. Your legs are in table top position with your knees over your hips. Slowly extend your right leg and left arm until they are both close to the ground. As you pull them back to starting position think about keeping lower back in contact with the floor and your core doing the work. Alternate sides.
4 – Bird dog extension – Moving on to all fours (your hands and knees). Again, hands directly under shoulders, knees directly under hips and back neutral. Keeping the core engaged and your neck long, focus on level hips and shoulders as you extend and straighten the left arm and right leg. Move with slow control and alternate sides.
5 – Plank – Progressing from bird dog, you can leave your hands where they are and get in a plank by extending your legs or you can move to your elbows. Check out the muscles working hard while you plank.
6 – Bear – From plank, put your hands down, put a towel under your feet (or a paper plate if you are on carpet). See the video on how to do it.
If you are in a place where you would like more of a challenge, try this bootcamp style core workout from American Council on Exercise. What I like about these is they are full body moves that challenge your core stability and get your heart rate going:
And finally, if you are looking for something different to spice up your routine, I challenge you to try a new sport like stand up paddle boarding (talk about firing up all those stabilizers!) or commit to finally attempting a handstand.
How has training your core impacted your overall posture? training? strength? What challenge have you taken on recently to improve your core?
*Be smart, you know your body, so if you have any conditions or injuries make the necessary modification or ask a fitness professional first.