Earlier in the week, I wrote a post about how crunches and sit-ups were no longer considered great moves to build a better midsection. I decided to do a follow-up post (thanks to Michelle) listing some of the best and trusted moves to build a better core overall…
Quoting 2 articles I pulled these moves from (www.askmen.com and www.menshealth.com), – “A strong core is essential to correctly perform strength training exercises, to lift a maximum amount of weight and to reduce your risk of injuries.” (AM)
– “You can strengthen your core without moving a muscle. Whereas most muscles propel you, your core resists movement–for instance, to protect your spine when you twist your torso.” (MH)
– “Slouching sabotages your six-pack. Training your core helps correct poor posture. But an hour a week of core work can’t compensate for the 50 hours spent slumped over your keyboard. Core muscles contract first in every exercise. All the energy you exert originates in your torso, before being transferred to your arms and legs.” (MH)
With those in mind, here are the moves. It looks like most of these don’t give a certain number of reps, so I’d say do 2-3 sets of 12-20.
– Side Bridge: Lie on your side with your forearm on the floor under your shoulder to prop you up, and your feet stacked. Contract your core and press your forearm against the floor to raise your hips until your body is straight from ankles to shoulders. Hold for 15 to 45 seconds, then repeat on the other side. Contract your abs and butt muscles forcefully to keep your body straight.
– Plank With Diagonal Arm Lift: Assume a modified pushup position with your feet shoulder-width apart, forearms on the floor. Keeping your torso steady, raise your right arm for-ward and to the right, so that it points to 2 o’clock. Hold for 2 seconds, then lower and repeat with your left arm, raising it to 10 o’clock. That’s one rep. Your elbows should be bent 90 degrees and directly under your shoulders.
– Single-Leg Lowering: Lie on your back with your legs extended straight up. Keeping your legs straight, lower your left leg until your foot is 2 to 3 inches off the floor. Return to the starting position, then repeat with your right leg; that’s one repetition. Think about pushing the bottom of your heel away from your hip as you lower your leg. Don’t point your toes; keep your foot flexed toward you. Lead with your heel. (This move is also in the P90X Ab Ripper DVD)
– Swiss Ball Knee-Tuck: Assume the pushup position with your shins resting on a Swiss ball, hands slightly more than shoulder-width apart. 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. Lift your hips as you bring your knees toward you so your shins rise off the ball.
– Cable Kneeling Chop: At a high-pulley cable, grab an end of rope with each hand. Go down on your right knee, with your left knee pointing toward the weight stack; this is the starting position. Rotate your torso away from the stack as you pull your hands to your chest, then down and away from you. Reverse to the start. Keep your torso upright as you extend your arms away from your body. (This move is best done at the gym with the right machine)
– Glute Bridge March: Lie with your knees bent and your arms and heels on the floor. Push down through your heels and squeeze your glutes to raise your body into a straight line from knees to shoulders. Next, bring a knee toward your chest. Reverse the move, then repeat with your other leg. That’s one rep. Don’t allow your hips to sag at any time during the movement.
– Plank, Pushup Plank: The plank works your entire core and upper- and lower-body muscles. Lie down on your stomach. Lift your body off the floor with your forearms (elbows at 90° degrees) and your toes. Keep your body in a straight position (without arching your back) and hold for 30 seconds to one minute. Lift one foot in the air for added difficulty. (The Pushup Plank is the same except your arms are in a pushup position instead of bent 90 degrees.)
– V-Sit Hold: This targets your abdominal muscles and improves your balance. Lie on your back and bend at the waist as you extend your legs and arms into the air to form a “V.” Hold this position for as long as you can.
– Twisting Crunch: This is one of the most effective crunch workouts, as it hits all of your stomach muscle fibers at once. Assume a standard crunch position, raise your torso to a 45° angle, and then twist from side to side. For an advanced movement, extend your legs and pretend to peddle a bicycle while you continue to twist. (AKA Russian Twist)
– Lying Windmills: This exercise is one of the most challenging. Lie on your back with your arms extended and raise your legs until they are perpendicular to the floor. Slowly lower your legs to the side as low as you can while maintaining complete shoulder and back contact with the floor. Bring your legs back up to center and lower them to the other side.
– Supermans With A Twist: Perform a standard Superman: Lie down on your stomach and raise your torso off the floor with your arms extended in front of you (beginners may place their hands behind their head). Here’s the twist: At the top of the raise, twist to one side, return to the center and twist to the other side. Lower your torso to the ground to complete one rep. Hold a two- to five-pound weight for a more advanced movement.
– Plank On A Swiss Ball: This is a variation of the static plank. There are two possible executions: You can place your forearms on the Swiss ball with your feet on the ground or you can place your feet on the ball with your forearms on the ground. Keep your abs and glutes tight, and do not arch your back. Hold this position as long as possible. Move the ball slightly from side to side for an advanced movement.
– Lying Glute Pushup: The lying glute pushup targets your butt and back muscles. Lie on your back with your feet resting on top of a Swiss ball. Push through your heels to raise your butt off the floor as high as possible. Form a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Hold this position for 60 seconds.
– Ball Roll-Ins: Ball roll-ins target your central abdominal muscles. Place your hands on the ground and the top of your feet on top of the ball. Keep your hands in place and bend at the knees to bring the ball toward your chest. Hold this position for a second and roll back out. Focus on squeezing your abs throughout the movement; do not use your hip flexors to bring the ball toward you.
– Stiff-Legged V Bends: This is exactly the same as the ball roll-ins, but you must keep your knees straight and move your hips toward the ceiling. The focus of this drill is completely on the abs; you should be able to feel a strong medial contraction.
**Something you NEED to know before buying a core ball (shown above): There are 3-4 different sizes, accommodating to a certain height and weight group. Look on the back and find which size is right for you.**
Here are the links to both articles: