A basic core workout is essential to a well-rounded fitness program. The core muscles of the pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen are responsible for practically every move you make. A strong core makes it easier to bend down, reach up and generally move around. Any exercise that requires the abdominal and back muscles to work together in harmony counts as a core exercise. Round out your fitness program with a basic core workout two to four times a week.
Quality over Quantity
A well-rounded fitness program includes a healthy diet, aerobic and strength training, stretching and balance exercises. Reduce the risk of injury by beginning your workout with warm-ups and reduce muscle soreness by ending with cool downs. The essence of a core workout is to engage the core muscles and breathe through the exercise. Engage the core muscles by pulling your navel back toward your spine, and practice breathing normally while holding this position. Forget duration and repetitions -- it is the ability to hold the engaged position throughout the core exercise that will produce results.
Stability balls provide a basic core workout that can seem more like fun than exercise. Follow the manufacturers guide to choose the correct ball size for your height. Sit on the ball with feet flat and wide apart. Engage the core, breathe normally and slowly lift and lower one foot at a time, bringing both feet together, in a step-by-step fashion. Reverse the steps to return your feet to their original position and continue the stepping exercise for as long as you can maintain an engaged core and normal breathing.
The bridge is a classic core exercise that requires you to hold your form for as long as you can. Lie on your back with your knees bent. Keep your back in a neutral position, and avoid tilting your hips. Engage your core, breathe naturally and raise your hips off the floor until your hips are aligned with your knees and shoulders. Hold this position as long as you can, lower your hips and prepare to move into a plank position.
Lie on your stomach with your elbows and forearms under your chest. Prop yourself up on your toes and forearms or knees and forearms. Engage your core muscles and breathe naturally while keeping your back flat and hips from sagging, and hold this position for as long as possible. Alternate between the bridge and plank positions and focus on proper form, rather than duration or repetitions. Increased duration and repetitions will come naturally as you preform your basic core workout two to four times a week.
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