Fit-Body Core Work
Exercises that I always recommend my clients do who want to work their core at home are planks. I have found that even the highly motivated seem to skip out on the traditional core curls/crunch type exercises, so planks have become my go-to core strengthening move. In fact, I have pretty much moved away from crunch style exercise in my classes and workouts. I have also found that adding in variations to the planks helps keep people challenging themselves for a longer duration of time. But before you add on too many variations to your plank, it is key that you are in the correct alignment and making sure your spine stays in a neutral position, making sure you are not allowing your lower back to sink in and/or overarching your upper back/shoulders. I recommend incorporating this planks sequence 3-4 times per week for a strong, sexy core. You will also get the added bonus of strengthening arms, back, shoulders, and glutes.
You can start my plank series in Plank #1 and stay with this move, or once you feel you are successful in finding the correct alignment, you can progress to the plank variations.
Plank #1: Low-plank
To set up in your low plank, come down on to your forearms, shoulders stacking right over your elbows. You can have your hands flat on the ground, our resting on the side of your fist, whichever feels the best for you. Press your weight into the heels and feel a lengthening sensation down your calves. Your belly button/navel should be drawing into your spine, this will help you find that neutral spine, and try to engage you glute muscles as well. . I always try to think of trying to get my shoulders, hips, and heels in one straight line. You can start by holding this position for 15-30 seconds, continuing to increase duration as you get stronger in this position. Try working your way up to 60 seconds before moving on to plank #2. Remember to breathe!
Plank #2 - High Plank
You can move right into your high plank from your low plank. Or if you need to you can take a break and then set up into your high plank. In your high plank, you want to make sure your wrists are are below your shoulders and your fingers tips facing forward. I also focusing on pressing my index finger into the ground, to help keep my hands flat. Try to make sure that your shoulder blades are drawing in and down the back. You want to have the same neutral spine as you do in the low plank, keeping your back body in one straight line. It is important to keep your neck in line with your spine, so you don't put any added pressure by hanging your head. Start by holding your high planks for 15-30 seconds and progress to 60 seconds. Them move into plank #3.
You can start to end a little movement to your planks for added challenge. Start by lifting your right leg off of the ground and bend your right knee. You want to keep your knee bent, as you draw your knee onto your chest. Keep your core activated and try not to shift your hips forward. Stay in this side for 10 reps, then switch sides, working your way up to 3 sets of 10 on each side.
This variations adds in glute work, while still keeping the core working. In plank#4 you are going to lift the right leg off the floor, keeping the leg long. Pull your belly button in, really activating your core muscles and supporting the lower back. Lift your leg high enough to feel the glute muscles fire up. Hold here, working up to 30 seconds. And then switch sides and repeat.