Strengthen your core with these six simple exercises. Perform this six-exercise routine in a circuit, moving quickly between exercises. After completing one circuit, rest two minutes and begin the following circuit. Alternate this program into your current regimen once a week.
|X22X This is a variation of the old favorite. It is a flexion movement with extra emphasis on stability due to the unstable platform of the Swiss ball.|
| Begin with your feet on the ground, your knees bent at a 90-degree angle and the ball resting at shoulder-blade level. Your initial movement is a pelvic tilt. (To achieve a pelvic tilt, tighten your glutes and roll your pelvis upward.) Next, contract your abdominals and curl up into a crunch position. Return to the starting position. 3 SETS, 12-15 REPS| | 2. DUMBBELL WOOD CHOPS This move focuses on your rotational core muscles.
| Begin with your feet at shoulder's width apart, knees slightly flexed, back straight and core contracted. Grasp a light dumbbell with your right hand on top of your left, using a slalom grip. Keeping your back straight, bend through the knees and rotate to your left; the dumbbell will be outside your left knee. Now, using the power of your core, rise and rotate to your right in a reverse wood chop movement, keeping your arms straight. The end position has your arms above your head with the dumbbell above your right shoulder. In a slow, controlled manner, return to the starting position. 3 SETS, 8-10 REPS| | 3. STABILITY BALL ROLLOUTS This exercise will work both your extension and your flexion groups of muscles. The added instability of the ball will force you to engage your entire core.
| Begin on your knees, back straight, core muscles engaged, with a stability ball in front of you. Clasp your hands together and place them atop the ball. Now, keeping your back and arms straight, roll the ball out and away from you as you lower yourself toward the floor. Reverse the motion until you are upright in the starting position. This is a fairly advanced move, so be careful not to lower yourself too far, and do not allow your lower back to "sag." 3 SETS, 8-12 REPS| | 4. BIRD DOG This move will work your extension core muscle group.
| Begin on your hands and knees. Ensure your hands are directly below your shoulders and your knees are directly below your hips. With a contracted core, simultaneously extend your left arm and right leg parallel to the floor. Hold for two counts and slowly return to your starting position. Repeat move with opposite arm and leg to complete the rep. 3 SETS, 10 REPS| | 5. SIDE PLANK This exercise will engage your obliques. Building these muscles is imperative for stabilizing your core and adding power to your rotational movements.
| Begin on your left side with your elbow directly below your shoulder. With a straight back and contracted core, raise your hip off the ground until your body forms a straight line, resting only on the inside of your left foot and your left elbow. Repeat on the opposite side to complete the rep. 3 SETS, HOLDING 15-30 SECONDS| | 6. DUMBBELL ROWS This final move will exhaust your flexion and rotational core muscles.
| Holding a light dumbbell with both hands, get into a seated position on the floor. With a straight back and engaged core, slightly lean back and bring your feet off the floor. Now draw the weight up and circle it down along your right hip (mimicking a rowing motion). Circle the dumbbell back up to the top position and repeat the downward movement on your left side. If this move is initially too difficult, leave your feet planted on the floor to assist with your balance. 3 SETS, 8-12 REPS|