Tag Archives: core

5 Reasons to Strengthen Your Core

A strong core is the key to longevity and fitness. Your core affects all your movements. A strong core improves posture, balance, back pain and athletic performance. Working your core is much more than just looking good in a bikini. The good news is that you do not need any fancy equipment to work your core. You can do core exercises from the beauty of your own home. The core really is the centre of your body.

Protects your back

This is very important. How many of us after a workout or all day sitting at our desks end up with terrible back pain?! Working your core protects your back muscles and reduces pain. If you have a weak core it means that your back muscles will have to work harder thus placing a strain on your back. Working your core will also encourage spinal alignment and better balance helping you with certain yoga poses.

Enhances athletic performance

A strong core helps with all sports from tennis, football, running, golf etc. You need core strength to play a sport. If you have a strong core you can run for longer without your legs and arms getting tired. If you do a lot of squats or work with weights if you have a week core you will be placing all the pressure on your knees forcing them to be over worked. A strong core will protect your knees and joints. A strong core protects both your upper and lower body giving you the best results when doing any form of physical activity.

Protects during pregnancy

As mentioned before a strong core protects your back. During pregnancy as your baby bump grows it can place an enormous amount of pressure on your back causing pain. If you have strengthened your core before falling pregnant you will not experience this, also a strong core will help with labour too and will prevent the ab muscles from dividing into two which can happen during pregnancy.

Improves posture

A strong core will make you look taller and thinner and improve spinal alignment. If you spend hours sitting at your desk in front of a computer you will no doubt be compromising your back muscles and posture. It is important to take regular breaks. Exercises like yoga and pilates will help strengthen core muscles and improve posture.

Improves your everyday movement

A strong core is not only beneficial in sports but in your everyday life. It will help you when you have to lift something heavy in the house or carry heavy shopping bags. Holding a baby in your arms can place a strain on your back but with a strong core that will be easier.  Your core affects all your movements  which is why it is so important. A strong core will make all chores easier and keep you injury free.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Reverse Plank

The reverse plank is another great exercise that works the core. It targets the muscles at the back of the core and the obliques.

Sit on your mat with your legs stretched out in front of you. Straighten your arms and have your fingers pointing forward towards your toes. Push up using your arms with your hips lifting towards the sky.  If you have weak wrists come down on your elbows. Hold your core tucked in and remember to breath. Try to hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute. To make it more challenging you can lift one leg up.

Side Plank with a Knee Tuck

This exercise works your core, obliques and abs. It is a challenging exercise. Position yourself in a side plank with your feet stacked together and your elbow directly under your shoulder. Place your left hand on your hip and slowly lift your hips off the ground and slowly bring your right knee into your chest and hold. Hold the position keeping your hips off the ground. Hold for 30-45 seconds and change sides. As you get stronger you can hold the pose for 1 minute.

 

6 Exercises to Shape Your Legs for Summer

This is a challenging routine that will sculpt and tone your legs for the summer. You should incorporate these exercises into your fitness routine. You should be doing your cardio alongside this routine. Try to do each exercise for a minute. If a minute is too long do what you can in 30 seconds. If using the weights is too challenging do the exercises without. It is important to work at your own pace and slowly build up. You do not want to injure yourself. If you are new to exercise you can ask a personal trainer to show you how to perform the exercises correctly or look on youtube so you see how they are done. Make sure to be warmed up before you start any exercise plan and always stretch afterwards. it is a good idea to do my foam roller exercises after this workout.

Walking Lunges

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This is a fantastic exercise for strengthening your hips and tones glutes and thighs. Start by standing tall holding a dumbbell in each hand. I use 5kg weights, you can use more if you wish. If you prefer to do this exercise without weights place your hands on your hips. Lunge foward with your right leg making sure that the knee on your bent leg does not touch the floor, and the knee on your front leg should not go over your foot. Your chest should be lifted and your back straight. No leaning forward. Press up with the front leg and bring the back foot forward. To work your glutes take a wider stride. To work the front of the legs take a smaller stride. I usually do two sets of each.

Curtsy Lunge

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This is a great exercise for the outer thighs. Start by standing with feet shoulder width apart holding a dumbbell in each hand. Take your right leg back behind your left in a curtsy position, bending your knees and lowering your body straight down. Your back should be straight, chest lifted and abdominals held in tight. It is important to keep abdominals pulled in to protect your lower back. The knee on the front leg should not go over your toe, this is to protect your knee. Alternate from leg to leg.

Dead Lift

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This is great for toning the back of your thighs (hamstrings). Start by standing holding a dumbbell in each hand infront of your thighs keeping the weights close to your body. Bend forward at the hips lowering the dumbbells to your shins keeping your back straight. Return to standing sqeezing your glutes and keeping your abs in tight through out the exercise.

Reverse Lunge with a Hop

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This is a great exercise for runners as it improves leg strength making a runner less prone to injury. Position yourself in a lunge with your right leg back. Swing your right leg forward hopping onto your left foot and return back down into a lunge position. Make sure to keep your core engaged at all times, this helps you to keep your chest lifted and not fall forward. Also keep your knee in line with your toes. if this exercise is too challenging do it without the hop.

Squat with a side Leg Raise

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Position yourself in a squat position and squat down keeping your abdominals in tight, back straight and chest lifted. As you lift up from the squat raise your left leg to the side. Go as far as is comfortable for you. You do not want to injure yourself. The important thing with this exercise is that you do not lift out of the squat too soon.

Jump Squat

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This is one of my favorite exercises. It is so effective for toning and strengthening the lower body. You do not need any weights for this exercise, you just use your body weight. Start in a squat positon remembering to keep your back straight, chest lifted, abdominals pulled in and make sure that your knees do not go over your toes. Squat down and then jump up with all your force and come back down landing in a squat position. It is impotant that you land softly onto your feet and make sure you use the whole foot as you jump not just your toes. Do not lean forward as you do not want to hurt your back and knees.

BONUS EXERCISE

Pliet Squat on the Balls of your Feet

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if you have something left after all 6 exercises in the circuit and would like to challange yourslef further then do this exercise and it will tone your inner thighs. It also works your core, glutes, thighs, ankles and calves.

Start by standing with feet wider than hip-width apart with your feet pointed outwards and come onto the balls of your feet. Slowly squat down in a sitting position still on the balls of your feet. Then slowly come up bringing your arms straight up so you are stretching your entire body. Hold this position and slowly go up and down. Abs must be held in tight to engage your core. You can do this exercise with dumbbells but only after you have mastered the pose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boat Pose with a Curl and Press

This exercise works your core and arms. Toning and sculpting your body for the summer.

 

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Start by sitting on the mat with your feet on the floor, knees bent. Lift your knees and bring yourself into boat position like the picture above. Your arms should be at your side holding dumbbells with your palms facing up.image

Curl your arms up to your shoulders, rotating your palms away from you, pressing the weights above your head.  Keep your core tight and back straight through out the entire exercise. Reverse bringing your arms back down. This is one rep. Do as many as you can in 1 minute.

 

 

Reverse Lunge with a Hop

This is a very good exercise for runners as it improves leg strength making a runner less prone to injury.

Position yourself in a lunge wih your right leg back. Swing your right leg forward hopping onto your left foot and return back down into a lunge position. Make sure to keep your core engaged at all times, this helps you to keep your chest lifted and not fall forward. Also keep your knee in line with your toes. If this exercise is too challenging do the exercise without the hop. Do 2-3 sets 12-14 reps on each leg.

Single Leg Glute Bridge

This exercise strengthens glutes, hamstrings and your core as you contract both the lower back and abdominal muscles.

Start by lying on the floor with your feet flat on the mat and knees bent. Raise your left leg off the mat pulling the knee to your chest. Keeping your core and glutes engaged execute the movement by pushing your hip upward and raising your glutes off of the mat. Keep your belly button pulled in and hold for 20-30 seconds. Do 2-3 sets 8-12 reps.