The key to seeing results at the gym lies in your core; it's responsible for the strength and balance of your entire body. And the stronger your core is, the stronger you can get your arms, legs, etc. Not only will you see results in the form of a sexy six-pack, but you'll see it translate to every other aspect of your fitness routine as well.
Check out these simple moves to focus on a strong, stable core. You'll see a few exercises done on your knees; not having your feet and legs to stabilize actually forces your core to work harder, putting more emphasis on your abs.
Remember to keep your abs tight and engaged during all these exercises to get the most out of them!
Kneeling Tricep Pushback
Not only will your abs keep your body balanced and stabilized during the arm movements, but your triceps will get a nice little workout, too.
Grab a dumbbell and come to all fours. Keep your hips over your knees and shoulder over the wrist of your stabilizing arm. The back is flat and the working arm is straight beside you at hip-height holding a dumbbell. This is as low as the arm will go. With the palm facing the ceiling, push the weight upward about 6 inches. Release back to the hip line. Continue on this side for allotted time, then switch to other side. Check it out here.
Sub a 30-second plank for your next round of crunches; we spend enough time hunched over desks, tables, steering wheels, etc. that crunches might just exasperbate our back and neck issues. A plank forces your core to support your whole body — in fact, Fuller House star Candace Cameron Bure's trainer swears by it.
Lie face down resting on your forearms. Push up off the floor onto your toes and rest on your elbows. Keep your back flat, contracting your abdominal muscles while you hold your body in a straight line from head to heels. Don’t let your butt sag or stick up in the air. Keep your head up and shoulders down. Check it out here.
You'll feel this especially in your obliques. Use your arm that's on the ground and your foot that's on the ground to help your core stabilize. If it's too tough, place both hands on the ground.
Sit on the floor with knees bent in front of you, feet hip-width apart on the floor. Place your hands shoulder-width apart on the floor behind you. Lift your butt so that your body is in reverse tabletop position. Extend your right leg and place your left hand behind your head, elbow out. Crunch diagonally, bringing your right knee to your left elbow. That’s one rep. Repeat for allotted amount of reps, then switch to the other side. Learn more here.
A move commonly used in yoga and Pilates, the bird dog utilizes your core to extend and contract your arms and legs.
Get down on your hands and knees with your palms flat on the floor and shoulder-width apart. Relax your core so that your lower back and abdomen are in their natural positions. Brace your abs, and raise your right arm and left leg until they're in line with your body. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds. Return to the starting position. Brace your abs, and raise your right arm and left leg until they're in line with your body. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds. Return to the starting position. Repeat with your left arm and right leg. Learn more here.
Take the side plank to the next level by squeezing in an inner thigh workout at the same time! If this one is too difficult, try a basic side plank.
Lie on your side and prop yourself up on your elbow with the elbow directly beneath your shoulder. Bend both of your knees at a 45-degree angle, stacking your knees on top of one another. Rest the other hand on your hip. Squeeze the lower oblique so your torso and hips stay lifted. Keeping your feet together, and hips lifted, raise your right knee as high as you can without your heels coming apart. Pause, then return to the starting position. Check it out here.
Kneeling Side Extension
You'll feel this one in your abs, thighs and glutes. Use the back of a chair to stabilize, then if you're feeling brave let go of the chair so only your abs are holding you upright.
Rest one knee on the edge of the chair while holding onto the back of the chair. Keep your body in an upright position. Note: If you don't feel comfortable on the chair, you can do this move on the floor, holding onto the seat instead. With control and good pace, open up your leg to the side. Depending on flexibility, try to raise it just below the hip line. Keep your hips square and avoid dropping the opposite hip down toward the chair. Bend the leg and bring in front of you again to complete one rep. Move at an even speed without swinging the leg.
Kneeling Overhead Press
Instead of standing like the photo shows, let your core do the hard work by kneeling and forcing it to stabilize your movements.
Kneel with your feet behind you on the ground, hip-width apart. Hold your dumbbells with your palms facing outward and in front of your thighs. Slowly bring your dumbbells up so they are parallel with your shoulders. Flip your wrists so your palms are facing outward again and push your dumbbells up, so your arms are straight and your weights are above your head. Bring them slowly back down to your shoulders, then down to your thighs. Learn more here.
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