Strengthening your core has many benefits. Basic activities such as putting on your shoes or picking up the kids get so much easier. A strong core protects your back, especially the ever-so-troubling lower back. It will give you more balance and stability and help you keep a good posture.
We have put together 5 ab exercises that will give you great results and strengthen your core. We especially recommend if you feel stuck in a training plateau.
Push ups are basic to exercise your abs. There many, many variations and each has its purpose.
To focus on your core, you will need a Swiss ball. Put your insteps on the ball and your hands on the floor. Your body must stay straight while you perform full-range push-ups.
The instability that the ball creates keeps your core guessing and balancing. This will make it that much harder, and that much more effective. Start slow and as you get more comfortable, deepen the push-ups.
Planks consist of holding the position correctly for a few seconds or maybe even a couple of minutes. The Guinness World Record is held by a chinese policeman named Mao Weidong, who held the position for 4 hours and 26 minutes!
To get the most out of your planks, we will use a Swiss ball. As I explained before, these balls create instability. Your body tries to compensate to balance itself and works many core muscles in the process.
Put your forearms on the Swiss ball and separate your feet from the ball until your whole body is in a straight line. Your weight will be held by your elbows and toes. Hold the position without forcing your neck.
The Cobra is the sixth basic position in Hatha Yoga. It strengthens your upper back while increasing flexibility in your lower back.
The Prone Cobra expands on this basic position to strengthen your core muscles. Grab your Swiss ball and kneel before it. Rest your hips on it roll forward until your back is arched and your chest raise off the ball. Your hands should be behind your neck and your elbows facing out.
Hold the position and be careful not to force your neck.
This one is tricky, so pay close attention.
Your weight will be held by your hands on the ground and your feet on the Swiss ball. Make sure your back is straight. Use your ab muscles to pull your knees to your chest and then back out.
This one will probably require a few tries before you get the hang of it. Don’t worry about it. Take your time and concentrate on your position and which muscles you are using to move.
The side plank can be done with or without the Swiss ball.
If you want to start off without the ball, lie on your side on the floor. Your body should be straight, held by your foot and your forearm. Concentrate on keeping your core and abs tight and hold the position. Then switch sides.
To incorporate the ball, place the side of your foot on it. This will make your abs and core work that much harder.