Training your mid section is not all about 6 packs and showy abs. The core (as the word suggests) is at the centre of every movement you make on a daily basis. Be it picking up your child, carrying shopping to and from your car or doing any form of exercise, your core is what pulls it all together and it is essential that we train it correctly for functionality.
Another major benefit of doing core exercises is that it can alleviate many back complaints that many people suffer from, after long bouts of sitting (often with bad posture) at our desks, in our cars and while watching television.
First up we have Oblique Crunches
Which are for those often neglected muscles that are located along the sides, running diagonally up and down your mid section. For this lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground and put one hand beside your head and the other to the side against the floor. Have your feet elevated and resting on a flat surface. Now lift the shoulder in which your hand is touching your head (For example, if you have your right hand besides your head, then you want to elevate your body up-wards until your right elbow touches your left knee. ) After your knee touches your elbow, lower your body until you have reached the starting position.
Next Russian Twists
It is important to train your core from different angles and this is where the Russian Twist is an excellent move to introduce to your repertoire. To begin, sit on the floor, knees bent and feet flat. Hold arms straight out in front of chest and lean back so that your torso is at a 45-degree angle to the floor. Twist to the right as far as you can, pause, then re-verse movement and twist to the left, ensuring you are engaging the core throughout.
Next up The Plank
The next move we will look at is The Plank, an excellent core move. Get into push-up position on the floor and bend your elbows 90 degrees so you are resting your weight on your forearms. Keep your torso straight and tensed, this will help keep your body in a straight line. Ensure your hips do not sag. Keep your head in a natural position in line with your body and hold the position for as long as you can.
Lastly Mountain Climbers
To finish off your circuit, I often use Mountain Climbers, which is a more dynamic move compared to the rest and best used at the end. Start in the push up position with your arms completely straight and directly beneath your shoulders (same as in the plank exercise earlier). Tense your stomach muscles, lift one foot off the floor, and bring your knee up toward your chest while keeping your body in as straight a line as possible. Return to the starting position, and repeat the movement with your opposite leg. Go as fast as you can while still maintaining correct shape.
The benefits of a strong core are huge. In everyday life it will help with the prevention of injury and common back pains and in your training it will help you get more from your workouts. Integrate these moves to your exercise regime and reap the benefits in many different ways.
Thanks to Martin from www.martinhuttoncoaching.co.uk for this feature inside Winter issue.