Your core can be thought of as your torso. The major core muscles are in your belly, mid and lower back and to a lesser extent your hips, shoulders and neck. A strong core helps to reduce exercise related injuries. So it’s important to keep all these muscles in trim. Accordingly, I have devised a set of exercises that work all of these muscles in one short 20 minute session.
During all of these exercises think of PULLING THE AREA JUST BELOW YOUR BELLY BUTTON IN TOWARDS YOUR SPINE. All the positions are to be held for 30 seconds first, with listed progressions of 15 seconds each.
Begin the next exercise kneeling on an exercise mat, on your hands and knees (your head in line with your torso, your eyes looking at the ground). Next extend one leg straight behind you, so that your hip and knee are now fully extended (not bent) and in a straight line with your torso, hold (30 seconds), before you switch legs to exercise the other side.
Once this movement is comfortable, you can progress by raising your opposite arm straight out as you move your leg back and hold (30 seconds). This will challenge your ability to maintain balance.
Progression 1: Drop your extended leg to touch the toes to the ground (arms back underneath your shoulders for this one). Only your leg should move whilst performing this exercise. Try and keep your spine and hips as still as possible when performing this exercise. Repeat ten times completing two sets.
Progression 2: Opposite leg and arm extended. When you breathe in, touch your opposite knee to your opposite elbow. Repeat ten times completing two sets.
Assume the starting Press Up position (see Strength Fitness Assessment) and hold for 30 seconds then lower under control.
Progression: lift one leg whilst maintaining shape, hold for 15 secs then repeat the same exercise with your other leg.
Lie on the mat on one side this time. Push up with your hand until you have a straight body line and a straight elbow, don’t let your hips drop. Keep the straight elbow under the shoulder (you can support yourself on your elbow instead to begin with, which makes the exercise easier). Start with your feet toe to heel as in the photo above, when you become more proficient put one foot on top of the other which makes the exercise harder.
Hold for 30 seconds then lower under control and repeat on your other side.
Progression 1: Lift your upper leg up, hold for 15 secs, then change sides to repeat with your other leg.
Progression 2: Thread your available arm through the gap between your body and the ground, twisting your body to follow it, 5 times per side.
Lie on your back flat on the ground, with your arms to your sides. Next bend your knees and plant your feet flat on the floor, up close to your bottom. Now, squeeze your butt muscles and push your hips up until your ankles are directly under your knees, your feet should be flat on the floor, your shoulders remain on the floor.
Progression 1: Wrap your arms across your chest (thus not allowing them to stabilise your body). Hold for 30 seconds.
Progression 2: Lift one leg up and hold it up for 15 secs before repeating with the other leg.￼
Sit upright on the mat your legs extended in front of you. Place your hands, on the floor, under your shoulders, slightly behind and outside your hips. Lift your hips and torso toward the ceiling. Look up to the ceiling, again forming a straight line from your head to your heels (don’t drop your bum). Squeeze your core and remember to pull your belly button back in toward your spine.
Progression: Lift one leg up and hold it up for 15 secs then repeat with your other leg.
Begin in the seated position above, contract your abdominal muscles and core, then lift your legs up to a 45-degree angle. Hold your arms straight forward, pointing towards your toes. Hold for 30 seconds then slowly return to your starting position.