Your core’s primary function is not to just look nice in a bikini. While I certainly understand why that may be your main focus and motivation over the next three months, your core has some pretty important jobs to do the other nine months of the year as well — like making it possible for you to move and breathe.
But facilitating every move you make is really only half of it. Your core plays a role in just about every move you don’t make as well. Even when you’re sitting or standing completely still, your core is hard at work keeping your spine stable and upright. Ever notice how your rear-view mirror seems to be angled up higher at the end of a long day? It’s a sign that your core has grown tired and called it quits. If your core is weak or lacks endurance, you’ll start to slump as the day goes on.
Rather than resigning yourself to a lifetime of constantly readjusting your rear-view mirror, incorporate these five moves into your routine to get your core in solid shape.
Single-Leg Balance Reach. Stand barefoot with your feet hip-width apart, hands on your hips. Lift your left foot off the floor and in front of you, keeping both hips level. Soften your right knee. With your toes slightly pointed, circle your left leg by reaching it to the front, to the side to the back, and around to the front once again. Your standing leg and ankle might wobble but your hip and knee should be solid. Do 5 cycles then repeat to the other side. For a bigger challenge, stand on a pillow or close your eyes.
Hip Hike. Stand tall, hands on hips, with your right foot on a step that’s 6 inches high or taller and your left leg off to the side, hovering above the ground. Lower your left foot towards the ground by dropping your left hip as far as it’ll go without compromising your stance, creating space between your left hip bone and low ribs. Then raise your foot up again by squeezing your left hip up as high as you can toward your low ribs. Do 10 reps then repeat to the other side.
Standing Cable Hold. Stand with your right side facing something sturdy with a cable or resistance band anchored at shoulder height. Grasp the cable/band with both hands at your chest. Press your arms straight out in front of you, fully extended at chest level, using your abs to resist the rotation trying to pull you toward the right. Keep your hips and shoulders squared and facing directly in front of you. Hold for 20 seconds, slowly return to the start and switch sides. Bring your feet in closer together for more of a challenge.
Glute Bridge. Lie on your back with your feet hip-width apart, knees bent. Lift your toes off the ground and drive through your heels to tilt your pelvis under and raise your hips up. Press up as far you can without arching your back. Pause at the top and slowly lower with control back to the starting position, keeping toes lifted. Do 10 reps. Up the challenge by lifting one leg at a time.
Assisted Single-Leg Lowers. Lie on your back near a wall, column, post or door frame. Prop your straight right leg and glute up against the wall and raise your left leg up unsupported, just ot the side of the wall. Keeping your back flat, press your navel into the floor and tighten your core. Slowly extend through the heel as you lower your left leg toward the floor. Stop at the point where you cannot keep your back from lifting off the ground. Pause and slowly return to the start. Do 8 reps and repeat to the other side.
If you scored 2 or fewer points on my 3-step core assessment that I described in my last post, aim for 2 to 3 sets of each exercise, 3 times per week. For those who scored a 3 or higher on the assessment, start here (using the progressions where applicable) but get ready cuz we’re taking it up a notch in my next post!
Leave a comment or catch me on Twitter with comments, questions — or just to let me know how it’s going for you.