A well developed core is the foundation for a strong, athletic body. Build a strong core using five of my favorite moves. Each of the exercises will engage the abdominals, obliques and back helping to build strength, stability and endurance. Aim for 3-4 sets of each.
Start in a face down position on the floor, supporting your weight on your toes and your forearms. Stack your elbows directly below the shoulders. Keep your body straight at all times, and hold this position for 30 – 60 seconds. Remember to keep your back flat, core engaged and butt/hips down. To increase difficulty, try raising one arm/leg at a time or perform with fully extended arms with wrists stacked under shoulders.
2. Side Plank with Leg Lift
Lay on your side, in a straight line from head to toe. Exhale as you push up through the palm of one hand until your am is fully extended to support you. Your wrist should be directly under your shoulder. With your abdominals gently contracted, lift your hips up as high as you can and extend the opposite arm straight up to the ceiling maintaining a straight line. Once you are balanced here slowly begin to raise your top leg as high as you can. Keep your hips square and your neck in line with your spine. Hold for a moment at the top and then lower back to the starting position. Aim for 10 -15 reps per side.
3. Mountain Climbers
Begin in a pushup position, with your bodyweight supported by your hands and toes. Tuck one leg upwards pointing the knee towards the opposite elbow. Explosively reverse the positions of your legs, extending the bent leg until the leg is straight and supported by the toe, and bringing the other foot and knee up. Keep your back flat and core tight. Repeat in an alternating fashion for 15-20 reps per side.
4. T-Push Ups
Get into pushup position on the toes with your hands just outside of shoulder width. keep your core pulled in and back flat. Perform a pushup by bending at the elbows. Keep your body straight as you lower down. Do one pushup and as you come up, shift your weight on the left side of the body, twist to the side while bringing the right arm up towards the ceiling in a side plank. Alternating this movement on each side, for 10 -15 reps.
5. Lower Back Hyperextensions
Lay face down on a hyperextension bench, tucking your ankles securely under the footpads. (alternatively you can use a stability ball) Slide yourself down to the edge of the bench until your hips hang off the end. With your body straight, cross your arms in front of you, or behind your head. You can also add weight by holding on to a plate with arms crossed over your chest. Inhale and start to bend forward slowly at the waist as far as you can while keeping your back flat. Continue bending forward until you feel a nice stretch on the hamstrings and you can no longer keep going without a rounding of the back. Exhale and begin to raise your torso back to the starting position. Repeat for 10 -15 reps.