Core strength and core stability lead to great-looking abs and also protect your spine. The terms are often used interchangeably, but there’s a difference between core strength and core stability. Core strength is when you can hold a position or posture while resisting fatigue. Core stability is the ability to maintain your balance when movement is added to a position or posture. Many experts now say that crunches have the potential to cause injury to the discs of the spine in our neck, so here are a few of my favourite abdominal exercises that can help protect your neck and get you working on that six-pack.
Slow Cross Body Mountain Climber
Start in a plank position, shoulders directly above your wrists, keeping your body straight from head to heels. Tighten your abs and bring your right knee in toward your left shoulder. Hold for two seconds, then return to start. Repeat on the opposite side. Do 12-14 reps on each side.
Side Plank with Hip Lift
Start in a side plank position, either on your hand or your elbow with your fingers in front of your body, palm down, making sure either is directly below your shoulder. Stack your feet one on top of the other, or put your top foot just in front of your bottom foot. Extend your top arm straight up toward the sky. Tighten your abs and lift your hips straight up. This movement should be small, without falling below your plank position, when bringing your hips back to the starting position. Do 12-14 reps on each side.
Bent-Knee Windshield Wiper
Start by lying flat on your back. Place your arms straight out to your sides. Bring your knees up, directly above your hips and feet out to form a 90-degree angle. Keep your legs at a 90-degree angle during the whole exercise. Rotate your knees down to one side until they are about three inches off the ground. Return to the start position and repeat on the opposite side to complete one rep. Do 12-14 reps.
Start by lying on your back with your arms extended toward the sky and bring your knees up, directly above your hips up and feet out to form a 90-degree angle or legs straight above the hips. Exhale, flatten your lower back onto the floor and tighten your abs. The key is to keep your lower back flat on the ground throughout the movement and perform the exercise slowly. Begin the exercise by slowly extending one leg down, straightening the knee and hip, to bring the leg just above the ground—slowly extending the opposite arm straight above your head just above the ground at the same time. Repeat on the opposite side to complete one rep. Do 12-14 reps.
Seated Russian Twist
Sitting tall with your knees bent, feet in front of you, lean back slightly keeping your spine straight so that you are in a “V” position. Tighten your abs and twist your body at the waist to one side and then the other. Exhaling as you twist, reach back and touch the ground behind you. For added resistance, you can hold a hand weight or medicine ball. One twist to each side is one rep. Do 15-20 reps.
About the Author
Noreen Lange has a BS in kinesiology with a minor in fitness, nutrition and health. With over 10 years combined experience as a certified group fitness instructor, personal trainer, and nutrition and wellness consultant, Noreen has worked with celebrities, high profile athletes, and professional sports teams including Tony Gwynn and the San Diego Padres. CommentsRead Bio Read Posts