Happy Fit Friday! This is one of my favorite days of the month, because I get to share some of my go-to workout moves with you, and hopefully motivate you to get active. Especially now that we’re approaching the summer (aka swimsuit and tank top season!), getting that workout in is extra important. This month I decided to share some of my favorite moves to strengthen your core, because who doesn’t want one?!
In case you didn’t know, your “core” is more than just your abs. It includes just about every muscle you use besides your arms and legs. You use your core in almost every movement of your body, and taking care of it is crucial for having a healthy and happy body.
But… did you know that having a strong core is so much more than looking great in your swimsuit? Before we dive into the moves, I thought I’d share some benefits of having a strong core.
Benefits of Having a Strong Core
It helps your back
Having a strong core will help with things like sitting up straight, standing for long periods of time, and simply making your back stronger. My sister and I both have scoliosis, and one of the best ways to avoid back pain is by keeping our core tight, and doing strengthening exercises. Your goal is to have a balanced core, because it acts as a stabilizer for your body, and protects your back from strain and injury.
Aids in day to day tasks
As I mentioned earlier, you use your core in almost every movement your body makes. When you do household tasks like sweeping, mopping and dusting, you bend, twist and stretch that area of your body. When your core is strong, those tasks take less effort and you will prevent any unneeded pain! Awesome, right?
Y’all… who doesn’t want good posture? When your core muscles are weak, you end up slouching and rounding out your back, which isn’t good at all! Instead, when you strengthen those muscles, you not only sit up taller, look (and feel) more confident, but it also helps lessen wear and tear on your spine, and even helps you breathe deeper. And it all starts with your core.
Helps you with other sports and exercises
Most sports and workout routines you do require a lot of core work. Even activities such as running, biking, and swimming require a strong core, as well as sports like tennis and volleyball. When you have built up strong muscles in your core, the movements and strength required to excel in these areas comes a lot easier!
Core Strengthening Workout
Before we get to the workout, I wanted to talk a little bit about the types of movements I used. Research has shown that doing core movements in isolation (like crunches or back extensions) aren’t as effective to building a strong core as doing more dynamic movements. Your core “acts as a stabilizer and force transfer center rather than a prime mover”1, which means the exercise movements you do should treat your core as such. That’s why today’s workout will target the core, but will also work with other muscle groups as well.
I structured the workout to be two toning moves followed by a cardio spurt, to keep your heart racing and your metabolism burning! It’s a tough workout, but you’ll thank me later. ; )
Complete 15 reps or 30 seconds of each move. Repeat the circuit 2-3 times through!
Start by lying flat on your stomach. With your body straight, from your legs to your shoulders, push up with your arms until you are in a full plank position. Keep your stomach muscles tight and hold for 30 seconds.
Alternate move: Instead of putting your body weight in your hands/wrists, rest on your forearms (bent at the elbow).
Using either dumbells, a kettlebell or your body weight (nothing in your hands), bend forward at the hips, keeping your knees in athletic position. Lower your weight to the floor, then stand up, using your glutes to pull up. Keep your core tight the entire time. Repeat 15 times.
Get on your hands and balls of your feet, with your booty in the air. Alternate bringing each knee to your chest, mimicking a high knee move (but laying down instead of standing up!). Keep “climbing” in place for 30 seconds.
Leg Pull In
Sitting on your bottom, bend your knees at 90 degrees. Extend your body out, keeping your feet off the ground, then pull back in to center. Repeat 15 times.
Downward Dog Crunch
Get in downward dog position, bend your right leg, and bring your knee to your right elbow. Extend your leg back and kick up. Return to downward dog, then repeat on the left leg. Do this move 15 times on each side.
Begin by standing on your feet. Lower your hands to the ground, then jump your legs back until you reach plank position. Jump your legs back to your hands, and stand up. Add in an extra jump here if you feel like challenging yourself!
Alternate move: instead of jumping your legs back and forth, you can walk them back one foot at a time.
Row Extension and Crunch
Hold a dumbbell with both hands. Place your weight on your left leg, and float the right leg out to the side a bit. Hold the weight above your left shoulder. Bring your hands to the center of your body along with your right knee. Your hands and knee should meet in front of your belly button. Bring your hands and foot back to where they started! Repeat 15 times on each side.
Hold a dumbbell with both hands straight out in front of you. Lunge forward with your left leg, and twist your torso to the left. Twist back to center, then return to standing position. Do the same on the right side. Repeat 15 times on each side.
Lying on your back, lift your feet off the ground and bend to 90 degrees. Put your hands behind your head. Crunch to the left (bringing your right elbow across your body) as you bring in your left knee and extend your right leg. Now crunch to the right, bringing in the right knee and extending your left leg. Repeat! Do this for 30 seconds.
Now it’s your turn to talk! Answer one of these questions in the comments below:
What are your favorite exercises that target the core?
Did you know that you use your core for so many things?