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Friday, September 19, 2008

Energizing CORE Exercises

Tired of the traditional abdominal crunch?  Try these advanced energizing exercises that target your deep abdominal muscles and also strengthen & stretch your entire body.  Remember to focus on your breath throughout the movements and warm up with a moderate walk or simple stretches like cat/cow (from all 4's arching and curving the spine) before you start.

Spinal AB Twist: Lie on your back with your knees in toward your chest, arms out to your sides in a T position.  Draw the legs in & together, inhale and gently take the knees over to the right, hovering the legs above the ground.  Remember to keep the left shoulder down on the ground to get a stretch across the chest.  Exhale and engage the abdominals to bring the legs back to center.  Follow your breath and alternate left and right sides 6 times.
  • For more of a challenge try the same exercise with straight legs.

Boat Balance:
Starting from a seated position, place your hands on the back of the thighs and bring your knees in to your chest so that your toes come off the floor.  Keep your back straight while you hinge back from the hips.  Move the ankles in line with the knees so that the legs form a 90-degree angle.  Take your arms to the outside of the legs with your fingers reaching forward energetically.  Continue to reach your chest up to the sky and engage your lower abdominals to hollow out the low belly.  Balance like this for 6 deep breaths.
  • Extend the legs straight so that the body forms a V shape to make this exercise more challenging.

Downward Dog & Knee Tuck:
Begin in an all 4's position on your hands and knees.  Tuck your toes and lift your hips up to the ceiling to form an upside down triangle position.  Inhale and lift the right leg up to the ceiling.  Exhale to hug the right knee in to the chest, slightly lower your hips and bring your shoulders directly over your wrists (into a high plank position).  Inhale back to the down dog with the right leg extending up to the ceiling.  Exhale back to a high plank, this time with the right knee moving to the outside of the right elbow.  Repeat this movement again with the right knee moving to the left elbow.  Do this entire sequence with the left leg.
  • Hold for 3 full breaths each time the knee is in to the chest/elbow to make this more challenging.

Side Plank:
Start from a high plank position.  Shift your weight to the left hand making sure that the left hand is directly under the left shoulder.  Move onto the outside edge of the left foot and try to stack the right foot on top of the left.  Draw the navel in toward the spine and pull the left side of your waist up to the ceiling.  Reach your right hand up to the ceiling.  Hold here for 3 breaths and repeat on the other side.
  • Add a hip dip to make this move more challenging.  Stay in your side plank and let the bottom hip lower to the ground, then use the abdominals to lift the hips back up to side plank position.  Try 10 hip dips on each side.