Conditioning the muscles located around the abdominal region and spine or “the core” is tough, but necessary for a healthy level of fitness. Along with healthy nutrition, the following exercises will help maximize optimum posture and stability, lower risk of injury, and develop a strong, tight and toned mid-section.
1. Forearm Plank with Optional Arm Lift Extension
Brace core tightly and create a straight line from the base of the neck to the ankles. Shoulders must remain directly over the elbows. If the back begins to sink, bring the knees to the floor and begin again.
For an option to work even deeper into the core, lift one arm and hold for 5-10 seconds then switch sides.
2. Frozen V Sit
Lift legs around a 45-degree angle, or when you feel your lower back arch away from the floor. Hold for as long as you can!!!! Be sure to keep your head and shoulders off the floor and your lower back pressed into floor. With your core tight and tucked, use your abs to return to the starting position. Relax and recover.
Repeat for one minute. Keep your abs engaged as you perform this move. If it gets too hard, bend knees as you lower down.
3. Leg Extensions
Lie face-up on a flat surface. Rest arms alongside the body with palms facing up. Extend legs out long and lift to a 45-degree angle then to above the hips. Slowly drop legs back to 45 degrees and repeat. The spine MUST be anchored to the floor. If you feel the spine lift off floor, bend the knees and repeat until your core is strong enough to extend legs and anchor spine without coming off the floor.
4. Simple Side Plank with Crunch Option
Roll onto the side of body; lift hips off the floor and balance on one forearm. Contract the abdominal muscles and bend arm gently, and allow hand to rest aside the head for balance. Come down to one knee if needed. Use your breath to guide movement. For a high option, bring the elbow toward the midline of the chest and then back to start position. Hold for one minute and switch sides.
5. Scissor Extensions
Raise both legs toward the ceiling. Keeping them straight, lower your left leg about 6 inches off the floor. Switch legs and repeat on the other side. Try to complete 20 repetitions without stopping. If this move is too difficult or you feel discomfort, modify my bending the knees and starting with 10 repetitions.
Advanced Bonus Move:
Tighten the core, arms and butt with resistance bands.
Stand on resistance band with feet hip width apart holding handles with both hands. Bend knees slightly, hinge forward from hips keeping chest lifted. Lift elbows out to sides of body to create tension and engage the arms and upper body. Squeeze the butt and kick the heel slowly back and away from midline. Keeping tension, repeat for 1 min on each side. Relax between sets.