By: Janet Hunt Developing core strength is important at the beginning of any exercise program. The first step in training your core is developing stability and then progressing to mobility. Below are some starter core exercises. Begin by performing each exercise for 20 seconds and gradually move up to 30 seconds. If the exercise includes movement, start with 8 repetitions and move up to 12. Core Bracing - This exercise teaches you how to stabilize your core for all the exercises that follow. Stand tall with your feet hip-distance apart and your arms by your sides with palms facing forward. Contract the abdominal muscles for 10 seconds and continue to breathe deeply. You can progress this exercise by bracing the core and slowly lifting your right knee hip high and then the same with the left. The goal is to brace the core so that you are only moving your hip joint. Do not bring your chest forward. The slower the movement, the deeper you will brace the core. Bird Dog – Get on your hands and knees on the floor or bench (not a bed) with your hands shoulder-width apart, directly under your shoulders; knees hip-distance apart, directly under your hips; and head in line with your spine. Brace your core and extend your leg behind you with your foot level with your hip. Hold and repeat on the opposite side. If you can accomplish this, add the arm opposite the leg. Extend your arm forward with your thumb facing upward. Keep your hand level with your shoulder. Repeat on the opposite side. Hip Bridge - Lie on your back on the floor or bench (not a bed) with your knees bent and feet hip-distance apart. Brace your core and lift your hips to feel the hamstring, glute, and lower muscles contract. Hold and slowly release back to the floor, one vertebrae at a time. If you want to add movement to this exercise, then hold each lift for three seconds and slowly release the spine and hips back to the floor and continue for your set. Supine Heel Taps - Lie on your back and bend your knees to 90 degrees with your shins parallel to the ceiling and brace your core. Keeping your knees at the 90 degree angles, lower one leg to tap the floor with the heel. Return the leg and switch to the other. Do NOT let your spine pop on and off the floor. If you cannot accomplish the above starter core exercises before attempting crunches or other “ab work,” you are not ready and may be harming or injuring your back. For more information about core work and more, contact Janet Hunt at 256-614-3530. By: Janet Hunt Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.

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