By Alyssa Burlakoff, Personal Trainer at The Edge Fitness Clubs of Orange
Although there are a ton of different ways to classify noteworthy fitness having a toned midsection is a good indicator of all that hard work. Below are 5 of my favorite core exercises that are proven to be beneficial to getting that summer six-pack! Remember, the key to results is consistency. Create a plan of action and then execute. That might even mean scheduling time in your calendar for accountability and sticking to it!
1. Plank Hold.
A plank is one of the most effective exercises in creating a strong core. It helps strengthen the core muscles that lie deeper, as well as the ones closest to the skin. deep muscles are important not only to stabilize, but to use more muscle tissue (i.e. burn more calories). It is also very beneficial in improving posture and decreasing pain in the lower back. One cannot strengthen and tone without first stabilizing. The plank and its variations are the key to getting on the right track! When you perform a plank, you want to make sure your elbows are directly underneath your shoulders and your wrists are inline with your elbows. Make sure to brace your core by pulling your belly button to your spine.
Breathe in through your nose and exhale through your mouth to really begin engaging your core while your in the plank. You can make this more challenging by grabbing a stability ball and holding a plank on that!
2. Bird Dog.
The Bird Dog exercise is a great way to stabilize your core and especially your spine! Remember, the core also involves the rear obliques and lower back, so don't neglect them if you want a well rounder physique. When performing this one, you want to make sure your spine is nice and neutral while you're kneeling on the floor with both of your knees underneath your hips and your hands are directly underneath your shoulders. Then, take your opposite arm and leg and raise them straight out while bracing your core and keeping your body as lengthy and stable as possible. This is another one that also helps reduce back pain while strengthening your core.
3. Laying Down Leg Raises
Are you trying to target that pouch we all get in our lower abdominal area? Fear no more! This is the exercise for you. While performing leg raises, you don't need anything except a mat to lay on. Place your hands palm down cradling the hips, lift your head and tuck your chin in towards your chest, and raise your legs up 45 degrees and then slowly bring them down roughly 6 inches above the ground. You don't want to swing your legs up and down too fast, make sure you move at a slower pace to really get those lower abdominals engaged. Make sure there isn't a gap between your lower back and the floor. To make this more challenging, you can grab a sandbag or a kettle bell to bring on the extra burn!
4. Dead Bug
When you perform this exercise, it may seem "easy" at first, but I promise it will get your core nice and firm. While performing this one, you want to make sure your lie flat on your back with your arms straight above you facing the ceiling and your legs bent 90 degrees. You're going to take your opposite arm and opposite leg and extend them to the ground at the same time until they are just a few inches above the floor. Repeat on both sides! If you want to make this one more challenging, you can add weights in your hands!
5. Mountain Climbers
This one is one of my favorites! Performing mountain climbers is a great way to strength train your core muscles which include your hips, back and abdominals! This workout begins in a push up position, keeping your hands directly underneath your shoulders and your legs are straight under you. You want to take one knee and drive it in towards your chest, bring it right back behind you and repeat with the other leg. Once you get a feel for it, you can make it more explosive by moving a little quicker with each knee to make it more challenging!
Need help reaching your fitness goals? A personal trainer can help you achieve those goals!