Wednesday Workout: Conquer the Core

Let's face it. Almost every sport, workout, or activity that you participate in requires the use of your core.
A strong core is essential in overall strength and fitness and has great benefits:

A Strong Core Reduces Back Pain
Abdominals get all the credit for protecting the back and being the foundation of strength, but they are only a small part of what makes up the core. In fact, it is weak and unbalanced core muscles that are linked to low back pain.
Weak core muscles result in a loss of the appropriate lumbar curve and a swayback posture. Stronger, balanced core muscles help maintain appropriate posture and reduce strain on the spine.

A Strong Core Improves Athletic Performance
All powerful movements originate from the center of the body out, and never from the limbs alone. Before any powerful, rapid muscle contractions can occur in the extremities, the spine must be solid and stable. The more stable the core, the more powerful the extremities can contract.

A Strong Core Improves Postural Imbalances
Training the muscles of the core helps correct postural imbalances that can lead to injuries. The biggest benefit of core training is to develop functional fitness; the type of fitness that is essential to daily living and regular activities.

Here are my top three favorite moves that strengthen my core and keep my waistline slim.

1. Side Plank + Leg Raise

This is an intense workout with tons of core benefits, and you get a little burn in the buns also. You can start this workout doing a normal plank. Then adjust your weight to either side. One you have stabilized your body weight and you are parallel to the floor, you can proceed with raising your leg. You can either do reps (lifting your leg up and down) or you can just hold your leg. Both are great options to strengthen that core!

2. Knee Tucks + Push Up
This is by far, on my favorite workouts on my ab day. You
simply roll yourself out on a stability ball, until your shins are resting on the ball and your body is parallel to the floor. Make sure your arms are straight and your back is flat. Do not let the body sink into the floor.
Then, using your feet, bring the ball in, tightening your core. Continue to keep your arms straight (do not lock them), and keep the body tight when performing the second part. Then you will return to the first position and repeat for 12-15 reps.

For an extra workout, when I roll back out to the beginning position, I will perform a push up., keeping by body straight, creating a 45* angle.
This is another workout that assist in creating some cut core muscles, and I can work those triceps.
Double bonus!!

3. Standing Abs
Maybe you remember the phenomenon of Hip Hop Abs with Shaun T, a fun, handsome and in shape dude who introduced the world to "standing abs." His popularity has soared with the Insanity workouts, which I heard are killer. I ordered the Hip Hop Abs DVD set years ago and would do 30+ minutes of standing abs. I thought it was the greatest invention since sliced bread. No getting on the floor to do crunches? Work the abs, while dancing to great music?
Uhhh...Yes, please.
While my DVDs are in the corner collecting dust, I still on occasion do a few moves from the video when I need to get in a quick work out or doing my Tabata sessions. I promise you. They work. There are so many unique and different moves. Here are a few you can try:
There are multiple exercises that work your core. Just remember, that a good core workout works the front, side, and back muscles, not just the front (abs). An overall, all-around good core is essential for strength training, endurance, and agility. Additionally, it helps improve our posture and stability, which is essential as we get older (loss of bone mass, osteoporosis, etc.) and become more fragile.
Strengthen your core today, for a stronger and healthier tomorrow!!
Until Next Time...
~ Q. Olivia

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