A Few of My Favorite Non-Traditional Core Exercises
Written by Nichole Kribs
No one is remiss from hearing all about how to strengthen your core by fitness magazines, Pinterest posts and your Instagram news feed. Many of those exercises come in the form of sit-ups and crunches. While I don’t hate those exercises, I am not entirely in love with them; especially not when it comes to strengthening your ‘core.’ Here is why.
First of all, let’s go over what your ‘core’ is. It is a whole slew of muscles that play some really important roles, like helping protect vital organs and providing protection to your spine. Your core is way more than just your abs and includes transverse abdominis, lats, pelvic floor, and obliques, to name just a few. Your core helps stabilize you for movements, helps reduce risk of injury as well as helps you exert power. The core is way more complex than just getting strong abs by doing sit-ups (which actually tax your hip flexors way more then your abs).
There are countless way to strengthen your core but we are just going to focus on four of my favorite movements that will help you get a stronger and more stable midsection.
This movement requires the athlete to stabilize from head to toe while pressing into unstable rings. Make sure you set up in a proper plank position with feet pressing into the floor, a neutral spine while spreading the shoulder blades apart as you press into the rings. Hold this position for 60 seconds x 3 sets and see how your midsection feels!
2 – Paloff Press
This is a fantastic exercise that will force you to engage your obliques as you do anti-rotational work. To set up, stand with one shoulder next to a post and attach a band to the post. Walk away from the post until you have light tension on the band, set your feet about hip distance and hold the band at chest height. Engage the midline and press the band straight in front of you. You should feel tension on the band while fighting to keep your torso from rotating. Try four sets of this x 10 reps each direction to strengthen those obliques.
3 – Supine Leg Lowering
This one seems so simple but is incredibly difficult. The most important point of performance on this exercise is to maintain a neutral back. Lay on the floor and lift the head and shoulders off the floor as if you were doing a hollow hold. Press the low back into the ground and raise the legs straight up. Slowly lower the legs based on the tempo prescribed. For beginners, try doing 3 sets x 15 reps with 60 seconds of rest in between sets. Only lower your legs to the extent that your lower back does not break off contact with the floor.
4 – Russian Twists
We can’t neglect the need to work in movement in the transverse plane! Russian Twists are a great way to get some horizontal movement in for core development. While sitting on the floor, bend the legs and lift them off the floor. Holding a dumbbell by its head, twist and touch the bottom of the dumbbell to the floor on one side of you and then twist and touch the bottom of the dumbbell to the floor on the other side of you. Try doing 100 Russian Twists with a 45/35 lbs dumbbell for time to work your transverse abdominis and obliques.
We can’t stress enough the need to have a strong midline so try out some of these exercises to work to improve your core strength.
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