Warmer weather is coming and that means beach season is coming ! Which means tank tops and lots of pool days ahead . It’s time to unveil all of that hard work over the past winter . I have 5 tested and very functional core exercises that will improve your core strength as well as make them more aesthetically pleasing too. The old saying “abs are made in the kitchen “ is very true , but you must develop the foundation for them to even show up visually .
1. Ab wheel /barbell rollouts The Ab wheel position involves kneeling with the wheel out in front . As you go into the rollout you want to squeeze the glute muscles to help engage the core . You should rollout where your nose is 1-2 inches from the ground and then return to the starting position by flexing the abdominals . These are very effective and they also teach you how to brace your core properly . Starting out you should do 3 sets of 6-10 reps . Then Progress to 3-4 sets of 20-30 reps .
2. Hollow body hold (static movement ) This is a reverse plank essentially . It engages the lower abs and helps create a tighter midline . On this exercise you want to lie supine (face up ) , with arms and legs straight without touching the floor . The trick here is to push the low back into the ground to help engage the core properly . Do these for 2-3 sets of 20-30 seconds .
3. Decline weighted crunches Lie face up on a decline bench with a 5-10 lb plate behind your head. Come up slowly and contract , then return to the starting position slowly . Make sure not to pull on the neck or head . The hands should be relaxed with the weight behind the head . Repeat these for 2-3 sets of 12-15 reps .
4. Knees to chest with a twist These can be done with straps on a rig or you can do them Lying on a bench . Bring the knees into the chest and twist in slightly . This hits the lower abs as well as the obliques . These can be done weighted with ankle weights . Do 2-3 sets of 12-20 reps .
5. Back extensions Lastly and honestly probably the most important from a low back health standpoint . This movement works the spinal erectors of the low back . These muscles often get neglected and make a person more susceptible to injuring their low back . Start out on a GHD or 45 degree back extension machine if your gym has it . Make sure the hips are slightly in front or over the pad . Flex down slowly and then extend back up to parallel with the legs . You want to squeeze the glute muscles at the top of this exercise . This exercise is very functional and a staple in everyday life . We are constantly squatting down and picking things up. Much like the deadlift , it is extremely functional for the everyday person . Start out doing bodyweight for 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps . Then progress to weighted with a dumbbell and do 3-4 sets of 8-15 reps .
Remember the core involves your low back . But we must train all areas of the core. Having stronger abs will help to take stress off of the spine. The core must be trained in static positions and dynamic positions too. Its ability to resist rotation and absorb forces is vital to our everyday tasks.

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