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4 Exercises to Help Strengthen Your Core

By June 23, 2014health + fitness

hey-fran-heyNatural Hair Blogger Hey Fran Hey

Core strength training targets the muscles that help stabilize the spine and pelvis. Core strength training helps prevent injury and improves athletic performances both in and out of the gym. Here are four exercises to help you build more core strength:

1.       Plank    

The plank or hover is a great way to strengthen your core. Start by getting into a push-up position.  Your body should be in a straight line from head to toe.  Engage the glute muscles to stabilize the lower half of your body but be careful not to lock your knees. To neutralize the neck and spine, look at your hands while holding the position. And don’t forget to breathe! If you’re new to planks, try holding it for 10 seconds and gradually increase from there.  Not ready to do a plank on your hands and toes? Try the forearm or knee plank variations.  Want more of a challenge? Lift one leg towards the ceiling (be sure to only go as far as it is comfortable) without collapsing the lower back.

 2.       Hip Lift/Hip Bridge

Lie on your back with your knees bent and heels planted on the ground.  Lift your hips into the air in a full extension.  Concentrate on squeezing your glutes to lift your hips and not your heels.

 

 

 

 

 

3.       Superman   

Lie down on your stomach preferably on a yoga mat or carpet. Extend your arms out in front of you on the ground.  Then, lift your arms and legs while contracting your back. You should look like Superman flying in the air.  Hold for a couple of seconds or longer depending on your fitness level and aim for at least 3 sets.  Try lifting the opposite arm and leg for an easier variation.

 

 

 

 4.       Side Plank

This variation of the plank targets the oblique muscles. Begin by lying on your side with your legs straight. Next, prop the body up with either your elbow or hand making sure your feet are stacked.  You can place your other hand on your hip or reach your arm to the ceiling. Beginners can modify this by bending both knees or staggering the feet (placing one foot behind the other foot). For more of a challenge, you can add hip dips, a leg lift or an oblique crunch.