When you have a strong core, that is, strong abdominal, back and pelvic muscles, you are more likely to have good balance and will notice an improvement in your ability to perform other physical tasks, such as playing your sport of choice or simply have more stamina to go about your day. You can work your core without ever leaving home or buying any fancy, space-hogging equipment.
If you’ve ever taken a Pilates class, you’re familiar with the 100. Most instructors start their classes off with this abdominal toning, core-strengthening exercise. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your legs lifted. Place your arms straight at your sides. Inhale and lift your arms up so that they are about 6 inches off the ground. Lift your chin and shoulders slightly off the ground as well so that you are staring at your abdomen. Straighten your legs out, keeping them at a 45-degree angle from the floor. It is important that your lower back stay flat on the floor during this exercise. If you feel it arching at all, lift your legs a little higher or bend your knees. You can also lower your legs closer to the ground to make the exercise more challenging. Exhale for a count of five, pumping your arms up and down. Make sure you engage your stomach muscles, press them in as you exhale. Inhale for a count of five, pumping your arms up and down. Repeat until you’ve reached 100.
Double Leg Stretch
After you’ve finished the 100, inhale and bring your legs into your chest, hugging them. Keep your chin and shoulders lifted off the floor. Exhale and push your legs and arms away from your body in opposite directions so that you are completely stretched out. Elevate the arms and legs about 45 degrees from the floor. Bring the arms and legs back in, hugging your legs to your chest. Repeat four more times.
Lie completely flat on the floor, on your back. Stretch your arms over your head. Place the heels of your feet together. Inhale and lift your chin to your chest. Raise your arms into the air so that they form a right angle with the ground. Exhale and use your abdominal muscles to sit up, bringing your arms parallel with your legs and lowering your torso as much as you can. Inhale and sit up straight, keeping your arms parallel to your legs. Exhale as you roll back to the starting position. Repeat five times.
Sit up and extend your legs in front of you. Position your feet and legs so that they are in a V formation, but don’t worry about making the V very wide. Stretch your arms out to the side, holding them parallel to the floor. Inhale and twist from your stomach towards the right side, bringing your left arm forward and your right arm back. Try to make sure the movement is coming from your abdomen and that you are not simply swinging your arms to the back and front. Tip forward a bit with your torso and twist a bit further, so your left arm crosses your right foot, as if it is “sawing” off the toes. Sit up again and straighten, then repeat on the other side. Repeat four times.
These are great not only for your core but also are give you a full body workout. Get in a push-up position with your hands directly under your chest at shoulder width apart with straight arms. Lift your right foot off the floor and raise your knee as close to your chest as you can. Return your leg back to starting position and repeat with your left leg. Continue alternating legs for 50 reps. You can build up from there. Make sure to engage your core. If you want to step it up a notch, you should get the new Slidez. These can be used for a variety of movements in addition to mountain climbers to really engage and strenghten your core. They are non-slip and ergonomic and slide on rubber, hard wood floor, etc.