It is great to have variety in your workouts. Along with your warm up exercises, it is important to include exercises that target areas such strength-training, cardio, and abdominals/core. Some of my favorite exercises to do are core exercises.
I should admit that a few years ago I had no idea what core was. I just did the standard sit-ups or crunches that supposedly tone your stomach making you look like you have a six pack! It wasn’t until about a year and a half ago that I learned the difference between abs and core. Your core includes the deep muscles within your abdominals, for example the transversus abdominis and internal and external obliques. When people refer to abs they are talking about your superficial abdominals muscles. So why is it so important to do exercises that work your core? The muscles that are worked in core training provide stability, coordination and balance. A strong core provides lower back stabilization and improved flexibility. And for an added bonus it works to flatten your stomach faster than sit-ups and crunches!
Here are some core exercises that I love to do:
Plank: Start by lying face down on the ground with your elbows and forearms underneath your chest. Prop yourself up to form a bridge using your toes and forearms. Maintain a flat back and do not allow your hips to sag towards the ground. Hold this position, focusing on tightening your abs. For beginners, start with holding for 10 seconds.
Stability Ball Plank: Assume a modified pushup position with your elbows on a ball and your toes on the floor. Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds.
Side Plank: Lie on your side. Lift your body while facing forward, and support your weight with that forearm and the outside edge of your foot. Extend your other arm toward the ceiling. Your body will form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles. Pull in your abs and keep your body in a straight line. Hold this position for at least 20 seconds.
Stability Ball Knee Tuck: Assume the pushup position with your shins resting on a stability ball, hands slightly more than shoulder-width apart. With your arms straight and your back flat, your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles. Keeping your abs tight, draw your knees toward your chest until your toes are on top of the ball. Slowly straighten your legs so the ball rolls back to the starting position.
Weighted Side Bend: Standing tall with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, hold a 5-10 pound dumbbell straight above your head with your right arm. Let your left arm hang at your side. Bend to your left side. Return to the starting position. Do the prescribed number of reps to the left, than switch sides and repeat.
Single-Arm, Single Leg Superman: Lie facedown on the floor with your arms extended in front of you, palms facing in and thumbs toward the ceiling. Keeping your eyes looking straight at the floor in front of you, simultaneously raise your left arm and right leg, keeping your knees straight and your hips square to the floor. Return to the starting position. Do 10 reps on one side before switching to the other.
These are just some of the core exercises that are recommended to include in your workout. Try them in your workout today and begin to see the difference!