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6 exercises for your core

Published On: Jan 17 2013 02:40:09 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 31 2013 03:19:33 PM CST
Exercise ball

By Echelle, Pure Matters

I can’t say enough how important it is to work on your core muscles.

This includes your abdomen, back, hips, and I like to include the glutes because they too are engaged in many core exercises and many of the back muscles attach at the glutes.

Not only is strengthening your core important for good posture, but by having a strong core, you’re ensuring that you have less of that ‘belly fat’ -- which is the dangerous (visceral) fat. Visceral fat is bad because it surrounds the internal organs impeding their ability to function in their proper an intended manner.

To help your good fight towards a strong core and against the bad fat, here are my top 5 exercise picks:

PLANK (a.k.a.The Hover)
This exercise is great. I love how it kind of sneaks up on you to bring the pain. It forces you to really engage your core in order to maintain good form -- which is essential in any exercise. Once you’re about 15 seconds into to ‘holding’ this position, you’ll start to feel it burn as your engaged muscles are working to maintain the pose. You’re not moving, but you’re working hard. Those core muscles are engaged: they’re working, they’re getting stronger. You’re getting stronger:
- Begin in the plank position with your forearms and toes on the floor

- Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending
- Keep your head relaxed (neck in neutral) and look at the floor
- Hold this position for 10 seconds to start
- Over time, work up to 30, 45 or 60 seconds

SUPERMAN (a.k.a. Tantrum)

I love doing the Superman because it makes me laugh. I allow clients to let loose with this one when they are in the full Superman position and tell them that they can yell and scream if they want -- like a child having a Tantrum. They love it!

This exercise is fun, and you don’t really feel it until you’re well into it because you’re having so much fun doing it:
- Lie face down on a mat with your arms stretched above your head (like superman)
- Raise your right arm and left leg about 5-6 inches off the ground (or as far as you comfortably can)
- Hold for 3 seconds and relax
- Repeat with the opposite arm and leg
- Now that you’ve got the gist of it, pick up the tempo (double time), and if you want, start yelling and screaming!

STABILITY BALL CRUNCH

The stability ball is a great piece of exercise equipment. Not only is it inexpensive, it can be used for various exercises and is very valuable for key core exercises that will help you to achieve a strong core. Using the stability ball for variance on your typical crunch is fun and engages far more muscles (your core) in order to execute a proper crunch:
- Lie on the ball, positioning it under the lower back
- Cross your arms over the chest or place them behind your head
- Contract your abs to lift your torso off the ball, pulling the bottom of your ribcage down toward your hips
- As you curl up, keep the ball stable (the ball shouldn’t roll)
- Lower back down, getting a stretch in the abs, and repeat for 12-16 reps

STABILITY BALL PLANK

- Drape your body over the stability ball face down
- Use your hands to walk yourself forward so that the ball is under your shins
- Engage your core muscles to maintain a straight line with your body (from ears to toes) while keeping the ball stable
- Hold this position for 15 seconds, then over time work up to 30, 45 then 60 seconds
- Walk your hands backwards slowly until your feet touch the ground to safely dismount from the ball

STABILITY BALL PULL-INS

- Drape your body over the stability ball face down
- Use your hands to walk yourself forward so that the ball is under your shins
- Engage your core muscles to maintain a straight line with your body (from ears to toes) while keeping the ball stable
- Hold this position for 5-10 seconds to ensure that you are stable on the ball
- Pull your knees in towards your chest to perform the ‘tuck’
- Extend your legs back into the plank position
- Repeat 12-16 reps
- Walk your hands backwards slowly until your feet touch the ground to safely dismount from the ball

STABILITY BALL BALANCE

This exercise forces you to really focus on engaging your core muscles and staying present with the exercise. It will take some time to build up to, so be patient with it.
- Sit in the middle of the ball, directly on your ‘sits’ bones, both feet on the floor
- Pick one foot up off the floor and feel how you are engaging your core more
- Work your way up to taking both feet off the floor
- Use your core muscles to keep the ball stable (no rolling)
- The objective is to stay on the ball with your feet not touching for as long as possible

I hope you enjoy these core exercises, as they are some of my absolute favorites! Let me know if you work on your core regularly and what you do. If you want to try these exercises out, let me know what you think!

Source: http://blog.purematters.com/fitness/6-exercises-for-your-core