Paula’s 5 Favourite Core Exercises

Defining Body Core

Core is not just a 6 pack abs the above picture illustrates most of the full core well, your core is from you hips/thighs to your shoulders. These muscles help us hold our posture proper all day long, sitting standing and other positions. Some of these muscles also assist greatly in our balance and stability ALL DAY long, some of them help us move. Core strength is important in daily living as well as super important in sport, endurance sport is no exception. I will share with you my favourite 6 core strengthening exercises some are static and some are more dynamic depending on the variation, if you do nothing else, do core strength work, 3 exercises a day 3 times each for 30-45 seconds each.

Pallof Press

Benefits:

  • Forces you to resist rotation
  • Improves balance
  • Prevent and relieve lower back pain
  • Sleeker core
  • Improves power

Muscles:

  • Internal & External Obliques
  • Gluteus Medius & Maximus
  • Adductor Magnus
  • Erector Spinae
  • Lateral Deltoid
  • Latissimus Dorsi
  • Multi Fidus
  • Pectoralis Major

How to:

  • Stand/kneel parallel to cable machine/band attached to pole, about 1-2 away (some tension on cable/band), feet hip distance apart
  • Neutral spine
  • Hold cable/band in both hands, centre to chest
  • Full extend arms, with controlled movement
  • You should feel some pull slightly towards cable/band. RESIST this pull
  • For a visual check out Molly Galbraith’s explanation

Avoid:

  • Too much weight
  • Locking knees
  • Not fully extending arms

Variations:

  • Half kneeling
  • Split stance
  • Tall kneeling

Plank

Benefits:

  • Stability
  • Posture improvement

Muscles:

  • Erector Spinae
  • Iliacus
  • Iliopsoas
  • Internal Obliques
  • Rectus Abdominis
  • Rectus Femoris
  • Serratus Anterior
  • Transvers Abdominis
  • Vastus Intermedius
  • Splenius
  • Tibialis Anterior

How to:

  • Prone position (face down), on elbows or fully extended arms (wrists, elbows, shoulders stacked)
  • Neutral spine
  • Shoulders away from ears, eyes on fingers
  • Maintain gluteal and quadricep contraction (think apples not apple sauce)
  • Legs extended, ankles 90 degrees, toes pointed directly to the ground

Avoid:

  • Hip dropping
  • Eyes lifting
  • Arms not under shoulders

Variations:

  • Side plank
  • Elevate legs, rest on knees
  • Lift one leg in the air, one leg on floor
  • Shoulder tap, up/down plank
  • Alternate knee to shoulder

 

Russian Twist

Benefits:

  • Stability
  • Rotational strength & movement

Muscles:

  • Rectus Abdominus
  • Internal & External Obliques

How to:

  • Start in a v-sit position, knees 90 degrees, neutral spine
  • Action, with control rotate your torso right, back to centre, then left, repeat
  • Holding a weight at chest level (not resting on chest) is optional
  • Fitness Blender has a video of the basic method

Avoid:

  • Rounded back
  • Moving to quickly with weight

Variations:

  • Foot positioning, feet can be on ground/anchored/floating
  • Weight or no weight

Bridge

Benefits:

  • Strengthen the posterior chain – gluteus, lower back, hamstrings
  • Improve circulation
  • Stretch chest, neck, spine, & hips

Muscles:

  • Gluteus maximus & minimus
  • Rectus abdominus
  • Erector spinae
  • Adductors
  • Hamstrings

How to:

  • Supine position, bend knees until your heels are close to your butt (ideally shins are perpendicular to the floor), feet hip distance apart
  • Spine is neutral to start
  • Pressing down through your shoulders, upper arms & feet, drive your hips to the ceiling
  • Engage your glutes, imagine holding a ball/block between your knees
  • Slightly draw your ribs to your hip bone

Avoid:

  • Rotating your head
  • Knees dropping to the outside

Variations:

  • Feet on a physio ball
  • Extending alternate legs
  • Arms extended to ceiling
  • Hold a Pilates ball between knees

Woodchop

Benefits:

  • Will increase hip and shoulder mobility & strength
  • Strength of core
  • Core stability
  • Improve balance and posture
  • Strengthen upper and lower body

Muscles:

  • Gluteus maximus
  • Obliques
  • Quads
  • Transverse abdomen
  • Rectus abdomen
  • Lower back

How to:

  • Start ins a standing athletic stance, feet shoulder width apart, feet parallel
  • Hold a weight or handle of a cable/band above one shoulder
  • Pull down and across to the opposite hip, move with control and purpose
  • Be sure to work both angles to cover both sides of your body

Avoid:

  • The weight controlling you
  • Too heavy a load on band or cable

Variations:

  • The type of weight – cable machine, dumbbell, band
  • Kneeling stance

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