What the core? 4 exercises to strengthen it.
CORE. [kôr/] noun: the central or most important part of something.
Gut health is crucial to overall wellness. While this has been the buzz in the wellness world for a while now, I didn’t really get a sense of just how crucial it really is until I recently found out that I have a pretty excessive amount of yeast in my system. Yikes. And oops. I’m in the process of killing off the yeast and simultaneously strengthening my gut, so Bio-K+ has been a crucial part of the latter. Probiotics, such as Bio-K+, are imperative to gut health. Increasing the good bacteria gives our gut the strength to fight off the bad bacteria. In other words, the stronger our gut, the more we are able to fight off disease. Our gut health, then, is kind of a big deal and we want to take care to strengthen from the inside out.
Well, just like gut health, your core is kind of a big deal. In the fitness/yoga/movement world, the core is revered because of the huge role that it plays in how the rest of the body functions. It helps initiate movement, it helps stabilize, it helps us balance, etc.
The stronger the core, the better the rest of our movement. Sounds familiar? These days, it’s hard to find a movement modality that doesn’t integrate core-specific training at some level. Now, let’s be clear: we’re not just talking about sit-ups and crunches nor are we talking about having to have a 6-pack. Just like the gut, the core is intricate. The core is made up of more than just your abs. We are talking about the entire trunk including your lower back, pelvis, hips and the abdomen. Like I said, kind of a big deal.
Needless to say, the core is my favorite thing to train. But I thought you just said it wasn’t just one thing? Exactly.
Here is a sample of some of my favorite exercises that target parts of the core:
Crooked scissor crunch
1 – Start on your back, legs extended straight up toward the ceiling. Finger tips only behind the ears (avoid interlacing fingers behind the neck).
2 – Extend your right foot forward, foot hovering above the floor, toes reaching out in front of you. Modification is to let the foot come to the floor. The left leg stays up.
3 – Exhale to lift the torso up using the abdominal muscles (not the neck) as you bend both knees toward you.
4 – Inhale to extend legs back out as you lower head down.
5 – Scissor switch your legs (left foot forward, right foot up) and repeat #3.
6 – Scissor switch and repeat.
7 – Continue the crunch with the scissor switch. You can do a set of 10-20 or if you want to do it for time, about 30 seconds.
GLIDERS: you can use paper plates, towels, socks, Frisbees, gliding discs, etc. Anything that slides on the floor (but won’t scratch it!) You will need 2 gliders.
1 – Come to a plank position with gliders underneath each foot. Shoulders stack on elbows and wrists, body in one long line. No hips sagging or piking up in the air. Feet together.
2 – Firmly press through the hands as you begin to bend the knees and glide the feet toward the chest.
3- Gently glide back out to starting plank position.
4 – Repeat 10-15 times.
1 – Start on your belly, legs extended out, arms reaching forward. Let the shoulders relax away from the ears. Feet can be together or about hip width apart.
2 – Reach through the fingertips and the toes to lift the arms and legs off the ground. This is not an excessive extension here; you should only lift until you feel the muscles around the lower back engage, not pinch! This is the “superman”
3 – Slowly release back to start.
4 – Roll to the right (like a kid rolling down a hill!)
5 – Begin to sit up on the tailbone, bringing the knees up and the feet off the floor. Arms can reach forward. Keep the chest and lower back lifted, the abs engaged. This is the “v-up.”
6 – Lower back down to the ground and roll back to start.
7 – Repeat the Superman.
8 – Roll left and repeat the V-up.
9 – Repeat 10-15 times.
Side plank crunch.
1- From all 4’s, lower down onto your forearms and extend feet back to a forearm plank. Lift up and move the right hand so that it touches the left elbow, putting your right forearm perpendicular to the left forearm.
2 – Roll onto the right forearm and turn the body to open to the left. The left foot can cross over the right to make this a bit easier or it can stack on top of the right.
3 – Bring your left fingertips behind the left ear.
4 – Lift your left leg slightly to hover above the right. Bend the left knee and contract the obliques (the side of your waist) to bring the left knee towards the left elbow.
5 – Extend back out.
6 – Repeat the crunch 10-15 times
7 – Return