With summer rapidly approaching, and activities like yardwork and outdoor sports more prevalent in our daily routines, it’s time to ask if your core exercise program is adequately preparing you for the months ahead. “Most people sit up and crunch their bodies to the limit,” says Baltimore-based trainer and fitness coach, Nick Ehrlich, “but they neglect the other abdominal muscles and functions, and miss the point of strengthening their abdominals altogether.” Defined abdominals are a direct result of exercise and a healthy diet, but a strong core utilizes all of the muscles in the abdominal system, and incorporates them in a balanced capacity to help strengthen day-to-day function and balance one’s trunk. A strong and balanced core can help not only improve performance and functionality during day-to-day activities, but also helps prevent injury due to exercise or stress. Ehrlich suggests doing the following exercises in a circuit fashion a few times a week to give yourself a great core workout that focuses on strength and function.
1. Diagonal Band Chop: Using a band or cable attachment and straight arms, plant your feet and rotate down as if swinging a baseball bat or golf club. Turn back slowly, repeat in a smooth fashion.
. Plank: Place elbows directly under shoulders, and raise up onto forearms and the balls of your feet. Suck in your belly button and tense your glutes and quads. Hold.
2. Hip Bridge: Laying on your back, place your feet flat on the ground, and then push up, lifting your hips and lower back until you form a straight line from your knees through your body. Lift up on your toes, putting your weight on your heels, and brace your core at the top of the movement.
4. Side Plank Pulse: Come into a side plank with your elbow under your shoulder and balancing on the edge of your foot. Place one hand on your top hip, and once stable, pulse your hip to the ceiling and then back to the plank. Repeat.