We need a strong core not only for the summer bikini season. As a yoga instructor, I see on a daily basis the negative impact of a weak core from low back pain and problems to prolapsed organs and more.
But the key to a stronger core is doing the practices correctly. If you do them incorrectly you could actually cause your belly to distend more than it should.
Your number one tool? A fitness ball. Using a fitness ball utilizes more abdominal muscle fibers than doing a crunch on the floor. Plus it gives you the opportunity to stretch your back (the other half of your core) from sitting at a desk. core
Here are 4 exercises to immediately strengthen your core:
Exercise #1: Pilates Modified Roll-Up
Lie on your back with your arms overhead and knees bent, feet on the floor. Exhale as you bring your arms over your chest. Contract your abdominals and squeeze your inner thighs together as you curl your head, shoulders and back off the floor, trying to bring your ribs closer to your hips. Use your abs to power the movement. Continue rolling up to a seated position. Take an inhale. Exhale, contract your abs and roll back to starting position. Do 8-10 cycles.
Exercise #2: Side Plank Curls
Come into a pushup position. Step your feet so that they are shoulder distance and then roll to the outer edge of your right foot and inner edge of your left. Your feet should be stacked one in front of the other. Extend your left arm toward the sky and balance. Take in inhale here, and on the exhale, sweep your left arm underneath your right armpit. Inhale, lifting it back up to start. Repeat 5 times and then switch sides.
Exercise #3: Ball Crunch
Lie faceup on a fitness ball with your feet on the floor. Your mid and lower back should be on the ball. Extend your left arm overhead and grasp the elbow with your right hand. Tuck your tailbone and lift your hips, engaging your low belly and butt. Exhale as you pull your belly in and lift your head and torso. Try to visualize the rib cage and pelvis coming toward one another. Inhale to lower. Repeat 10 times.
Exercise #4: Oblique Crunch with Ball
Lie on your right side with legs extended. Place your left heel on a fitness ball and the right leg behind the ball. Extend your right arm at 90 degrees in front of you, and put the left hand behind your head. Exhale as you lift your head and shoulders, squeezing through your obliques. As you lift, bend your left knee and roll the ball in, Lower and repeat 8 times.
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