Okay, I’ll admit I’m a bit late to the core strength party! For me, my core was always the last thing in my workout routine – so by the time I got to it, I’d already started to wind down a bit.
So I’d do a few Russian twists, some crunches, and then I’d move on to stretch and cool down. But no more!
Last week I was in London taking a core training course. And wow, what an eye opener it was! Now that I have a new appreciation for this very useful group of muscles, I want to share this with you too.
If the word ‘core’ conjures up images of fitness models with six-packs, and painful memories of planking in a circuits class – then I hear you! That’s exactly what the word conjured up for me just two weeks ago.
So here’s a little mental shift for you…
Did you know that your core is actually quite a big muscle group? These muscles include not only your ‘six pack’ area, but also your obliques (long, side muscles), and even your diaphragm and pelvic floor. When they are all trained together, this muscle group acts like a corset – pulling your midsection into a better, stronger alignment.
Does that sound more appealing? It certainly does to me!
There is a lot that your core does to improve your stability. Then there are the benefits of reduced back pain; better resilience against injury, and it can hugely improve your running stride too! Whether you dream of running marathons, or barely want to run for the bus, I promise you will feel a difference from strengthening your core.
Also, a strong core can really take years off of your appearance; improving your posture, your overall shape, and let’s not forget how that boosts your confidence!
Are you ready to give it a try?
So how can you train your core and have a built in ‘corset’ of your own?
Here are some of my favourite simple exercises that you can do at home to develop your core and tighten the tummy, which is designed as a stand-alone workout or add to your circuit training workouts. I also love to do these exercises as part of my walk with Benji in order to flush out the toxins and keep me moving.
The first exercise is what I refer to as the Jack Knife sit-up. Lay on your back. Hands and feet meet in the center. Slowly extend arms and legs away from the center of your body. Don’t touch the floor with your arms or feet. Hold and bring back to center. Do these for 1 minute. Try to do 25-30 reps. If you are a beginner, bend the knees and bring them up to midline and back down.
Leg extension with a workout bar – use a bar and hold the bar in front of you and just lower your legs while keeping your hands and workout bar in place overhead at waist level. Drop legs 6” from the floor, hold then bring back up to the bar. If you don’t have a bar, place hands under lower back and lower legs to floor, approximately 6” from the floor and back up to mid-line. Do each exercise for 1 minute/rest for 1 minute.
Now take the same bar and alternate it from side to side in order to work the oblique.
If you are a beginner, stop when you need to rest and then continue to complete as many reps as you can in 1 minute.
Another great abdominal exercise you can do if you don’t have a bar is to simply do the Classic Scissor Crunch. Lay on the floor with your hands on head not behind head, so you can avoid pulling the neck and alternate legs to your elbow. Right elbow to left knee and reverse, count that as 1 rep. What I refer to as a double count. Do for 1 minute. 25-30 reps.
The next exercise is great for your whole core, The Classic Plank. When done with the scissor crunch, flip over on your mat, place hands under shoulders, lift lower body in straight line, flat back and hold for 1 minute.
The last one is the Classic Crunch. Lay down on your mat, knees bent, hands on head so you don’t pull the neck, lift ½ way and back down, repeat. Complete as many as you can in 1 minute.
Complete all exercises, each one for 1 minute/1 minute rest between exercises. When you are done with all exercises, you will have completed one (1) circuit. Rest after each circuit for 2-4 minutes. Repeat circuit 2 more times up to 5. Complete 2-3 times a week and you on your way to a strong core and lower back region.
I hope you enjoy trying these out! Remember to take your time, and if you have any questions, do leave me a comment below.