Not only is a trim waistline visually appealing, it can help you avoid one of the most common injuries affecting millions of Americans—lower back pain.
The key element to long-term back health is keeping your entire core strong and fit. Putting forth a little effort to maintain a strong back and abdominals through a regular exercise program can help you stay fit and trim and remain healthy and active for years to come.
A strong, injury-free back is synonymous with strong abdominals. A good core strengthening program goes beyond your basic crunches; it includes strengthening both the back muscles and abdominal muscles. These muscle groups together with your glutes (butt) and hips make up what is referred to as the “core.” If your core is strong, you will have a trim waistline, good posture and be stronger overall.
1. Plank on Ball
Using a core stability ball, get into a plank position with your feet on top of the ball.
*TIP: If you are a beginner, practice holding the front plank position on the ground for 30 seconds before advancing to the core stability ball.
Perform sets. Hold for 15-30 seconds.
2. Lower Back Extension on Ball
Lie on your stomach on a core stability ball; stretch your legs out for support.
Place your hands behind your head or lightly grasp the sides of the ball. Lift your chest up slightly to feel the muscles in your lower back contract. Lower yourself back to the starting position.
Perform 3 sets 12-15 reps
3. Up and Down Plank
Begin the exercise by holding your body weight up on your hands in a front plank position. Lower your right elbow down to the floor; then lower the other elbow to the floor. Quickly rise up to the beginning position,one arm at a time. Repeat, starting with the left elbow first. Continue the up down movement 15 times total.
4. Static Squat
A static squat challenges your entire core. Simply lower your body to a squat position with your arms straight out in front of you. The challenge is to maintain a straight back and tight abs throughout the exercise.
Perform 3 sets, hold position for 15-30 seconds.
5. Dead Row
Using an underhand grip, grasp two dumbells and hold them at the front of your thighs. With a slight bend in your knees, bend over at the waist to a 45 degree angle; keep your chest high, shoulders back, and arms extended. Next, begin pulling the dumbells to a 90 degree angle, hold for a few seconds then extend your arms back to the starting position.
Perform 3 sets of 15 reps.
6. Russian Twist
Begin by selecting a weighted ball, dumbbell or kettle bell. Using a mat, sit down on the floor in a v-sit position (your back should be at a 45 degree angle). Twist at your waist, move the weight load from left to right. Feet can be placed flat on the mat with your knees bent to approximately 90 degrees, or you can lift your feet off the mat for a greater challenge.
Perform 3 sets of 15 reps