When I hear the word “core”, I usually think about an apple core (why is it usually so bitter?), the central part of the Earth, or the center of an issue. In the human body, the core is usually the central part of the skeletal system, which is greatly supported by the muscles. Our core is very important, and even as important to everyday living as the air we breathe and the food that we eat. The core is made up of the midsection and all the other human muscles surrounding that area, and this includes the front, the back, and the sides. In order to get work done on a day to day basis, you have to get your core engaged.
If you have a weak core, all of your other daily activities can suffer. To keep yourself from injuring your back, it is very important to keep your core muscles in shape. Personally, a healthy, strong core is important to me because it allows me to be active; because I shuffle between jobs, occasionally babysit my nephews and even work out often, I am constantly chasing, lifting and carrying things, so strong core is absolutely necessary. Here are a few exercise positions that can help to strengthen your core, keep you springing this spring (see what I did there?)
How to Basic Plank
With straight arms, place your hands directly under your shoulders, and spread your fingers wide like a fan as you push into the floor. Draw your belly button toward your spine to protect the lower part of your back, as you do this, straighten one leg, then the other until you are at the top of a push-up position. Retract your shoulders, keep the body straight, pushing the ribs toward the ankles to engage the core. Look six inches forward on the floor to keep your head fully in line with your spine.
How to do a Modified Plank
In order to do the modified plank, simply follow the same description as the traditional plank, except with the forearms on the floor parallel to each other, which will form the number 11, with the elbows under shoulders.
How to Side Plank
One arm is straight with the hand in line with the shoulder, fingers spread like a fan. Hips are stacked in line with one leg on top of the other. The belly button is drawn toward the spine to stabilize the core muscles. If you need more stability, stagger the feet. Hold the plank for 10 to 30 seconds on each side, depending on your fitness level. In doing the side plank, the challenge happens by adding on levels, not necessarily time. As you advance in your strength and get accustomed to the exercise, you can raise the top leg, raise the arm, drop the hip down and up or even add a dumbbell!
How to do Bird Dog
I know the name sounds so weird, but trust me this exercise is amazing and you will not be sorry that you did it. To begin this exercise, be on all fours with your hands directly below your shoulders and your knees directly below your hips. Bring your core into engagement by bringing your belly button toward your spine; slowly extend your right arm forward and your left leg back as far as you can, and then hold this position for a brief pause at the top. Bring the arm and leg back to the starting position and then repeat the same motion on the other side using the left arm and right leg. Before you start on this position, make sure that you begin with the proper alignment, and try to maintain a straight line from your head to your spine; this will make your exercise more effective. It is best to keep your core engaged throughout.
How to do Single-Leg Bridge
To do this, start by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet completely flat on the floor. Straighten one leg, and do this by raising it up toward your chest until your leg is at 90 degrees. Lift your hips toward the ceiling and raise your glutes completely off the ground. Perform this exercise for about 12 to 20 reps and then switch sides, repeat this between two or three times based on your fitness level.
How to do Twisting Crunch
This is my favorite on the list because it really works wonders on my core, and I finish the exercise feeling my core very strong. To perform this exercise, first lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor and place your hands behind your head. Using your abs, support yourselves to crunch up your shoulders and pull them off the ground, rotate the body as you bring your elbow towards the opposite knee. Twist and repeat to the other side. While you are doing this, remember to keep a safe space between your chin and your chest, exhaling as you lift up Instead of pulling with your hands, use them for support, and try as much as possible to keep up proper spine alignment by looking directly at the ceiling. When you are doing this, aim for three sets of 10 reps on each side, which would make it about 20 reps in total.
Kneeling Roll outs With a Ball
How to do Kneeling Roll outs
Start with your forearms on an exercise ball and knees on the mat. While you are doing this, your back should be flat and your stomach pulled into the spine. Breathe in as you roll out to your elbows and breathe out as you roll back to your forearms. Perform this exercise anywhere from 10 to 20 reps and repeat for two to five sets consecutively.
Back Extensions on a Ball
How to do Back Extensions on a Ball
To do these exercise well, first of all start by draping your body over the ball, feet spaced wide with your stomach on top. Breathe out as you raise the upper part of your body off the ball by squeezing your glutes and lower back. Keep arms long and draw them up, pulling your shoulder blades down and back. Perform 10 to 20 reps for two to four sets.
How to do Crisscross
Start lying on your back with knees bent directly above your hips in a tabletop position. Place your hands behind your head, and then breathe in and out naturally as you bring right elbow and shoulder off the ground toward the left knee. As you do this, make sure that you are extending the right leg straight out, hovering above the ground. Do not bring knees past your hips. Finally, make sure you keep your stomach drawn in and back flat against the ground. Twist to alternate sides. Perform 10 to 20 reps slowly for two to four sets.
Jackknife With a Ball (Advanced)
How to do Jackknife With a Ball
To do this, start out in plank position, hands on the mat with shoulders directly above them, stomach pulled in and toes on an exercise ball. Breathe in as you pull the ball toward you, drawing your stomach in and pushing your rear end to the ceiling until you are in a pike position. Breathe out and return to the starting position. Perform this exercise between 10 to 20 reps for two to four sets depending on what your fitness level is.