A strong core isn’t just for flaunting in mirror selfies and balancing your Black Friday shopping haul.
Core strength is behind everything we do, from heavy squats to mobility to breathing, and a stronger midsection can improve your stability, balance and performance in other compound movements like squats, deadlifts and overhead presses.
Burn off that second plate of pumpkin pie and reap the benefits of core training with these six exercises you can perform at home or in the gym.
On your hands and knees, place your elbows directly below your shoulders. Lift your knees off the ground and extend both legs back so your feet are hip width apart, and you are on your toes. This is your starting position
Hold in this position for the duration required
-Try not to let your hips drop, or raise too high
-Avoid arching your lower back by engaging through your core
-Keep your head and neck in line with the rest of your body
-You can widen your stance at your feet if required, for added stability
Lie down on your back. Bring both feet up off the ground with your knees bent. Hold your hand to the side of your head. This is the starting position.
1. Tuck one knee up to your chest while bringing the opposite elbow to meet it. It is not completely necessary for your knee and elbow to touch
2. Return to the start position and repeat on the other side
3. Keep alternating through in a cyclic motion for time or reps
-Avoid putting your hands behind your head and pulling your neck up
-Keep your neck as relaxed as possible throughout the movement
Start on your hands and knees. Come up onto your toes, lifting your legs and body off the ground. Your hands should be directly below your shoulders. This is the starting position.
1. Once in position, bring one knee up towards your elbow, before returning it to the start position
2. One the first leg has returned to the starting position, swap legs and repeat on the opposite side
3. Alternate through in a cyclic fashion for reps or time
-Avoid lifting your hips too high throughout the movement
-If this is too hard, try alternating through from side to side but slowly, and only one leg at a time
High Side Plank
Lie down on your side with your elbow supported. Your legs should be straight and feet together. Come up on your hand and lift your hips off the ground and place your other hand on your hips.
Hold this position for the duration required
-You can have both feet on the ground to target your hips more
-You should be able to draw a straight line from your feet up to your shoulders
-Make sure your hips are in line with the rest of your body. Squeeze your glutes to make this happen.
Lie down on your back with your knees bent and feet planted. Place your hands on your thighs. This is the starting position.
1. Engage through your core to bring your shoulders off the ground and slide your hands up your thighs towards your knees
2. Aim to get your wrists to your knees
3. Return to the start position in a controlled manner
-Try to avoid shrugging your shoulders and throwing your neck forward to get extra range. Just do what you can, and focus on squeezing through your abdominals.
Ab SL Extensions
Lie down on your back and lift your torso off the ground, supported by your elbows.
1. Lift both legs off the ground with your knees bent
2. Extend one leg out as low as you can without touching the ground, while holding the other leg up in the start position
3. Pull the extended leg back to the starting position and repeat on the same side for reps or time
4. Once completed, repeat steps 1-3 on the opposite leg
-If you find this too easy, lie flat on your back without the support of your elbow following steps 1-3. Make sure you don’t let your lower back lift off the ground throughout this progression.
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