Great core strengthening exercises

All Woman

WHEN we think of core muscles, many of us automatically think of the muscles in the abdominal region. And while we are not wrong in our thinking, personal instructor and fitness trainer Gisel Harrow says that the core muscles also include the back and pelvic muscles which are crucial to a variety of bodily functions and abilities such as being able to balance, good posture, and stability.

As such you want to make sure that you keep these muscles strong so that they can help to support the many day-to-day activities that you engage in.

The best way to ensure this, according to Harrow, is by committing to some solid core-strengthening techniques. Below, she shares some techniques that guarantee that your core muscles will show up to do their job.

Planks

The plank is a full-body exercise that targets your core. It also strengthens your arms, shoulders, back, glutes, and legs. Start on all fours, with your hands below your shoulders and your knees below your hips. Straighten your legs behind you, keeping your feet hip-width apart. Tighten your core and hold for 10 to 30 seconds. Repeat for three sets.

Crunches

This is an easy, classic core-strengthening move. It is the act of lifting your upper body and working your abdominal muscles. To achieve this, start on your back. Bend your knees and plant your feet on the floor at hip-width. Now line up your head and spine and cross your arms across your chest. Tighten your core and relax your neck and shoulders. Tuck in your chin and lift your upper back, keeping your lower back, pelvis, and feet on the floor. Pause, and then slowly lower your upper back to return to the starting position. Complete three sets of eight to 12 repetitions.

Bridges

Most people think that bridges are for your glutes only, but this move, when performed correctly with your hips tucked under and low abdominals engaged, is a great workout for your core as well. To execute this, lie on your back with your hands at your sides, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor under your knees. Now tighten your abdominal and buttock muscles and raise your hips to create a straight line from your knees to shoulders. Squeeze your core and pull your belly button back toward your spine. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, and then return to your starting position. Complete 10 repetitions.

Leg raises

Lie down on a yoga mat and place your thumbs under your hips. Engage your core and raise your legs vertically. This is the starting position. Inhale and lower your legs slowly. Just before your heels touch the floor, raise them slowly. Exhale as you do this. Complete three sets of eight to 12 repetitions.

Russian twists

Sit on a yoga mat with your knees flexed and feet flat on the mat. Hold the medicine ball or dumbbell with both your hands and lean back a little. Engage your core; lift your legs in the same flexed knee pose, and cross them. Start twisting from side to side. Keep your lower body and neck still. Complete three sets of 10 on each side.

Have you managed to transform your body through weight gain or weight loss? Want to share your story with us? E-mail clarkep@jamaicaobserver.com

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