Beginning Core Workout
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No matter what sport you play, the core muscles of your body are extremely important to exercise. The major muscles of your core are in your abdominals, mid and lower back and the minor include the hips, shoulders and neck. More than just ‘six pack’ abs people try to achieve, your core muscles are important for posture, balance and performance in sports, among other activities.
Things to remember:
- If you are new to exercising, check with your doctor before starting.
- Warm up and stretch prior to exercise, preferably with a low impact exercise to help prevent injury and boost performance. (Bike, elliptical machine, rowing machine or walk.)
- Cool down for 5-10 minutes after exercise by slowing down your workout, followed by another stretch. It's important for your heart rate to come down slow, and you'll gain more flexibility because your muscles are already warmed up.
- Make sure to drink water before, during and after exercising.
- You should stop exercising immediately and check with your doctor if you:
- Experience chest pain
- Cannot catch your breath
- Develop an irregular or rapid heartbeat
- Feel any other sharp discomfort or pain
- Kneel on a mat or rolled-up towel with feet together, knees slightly apart. Cross arms over chest.
- Inhale, keeping abs tight and back straight as you lean backward. Pause.
- Exhale and lean forward to return to start.
Special instructions: use very small movements. If your back hurts, do not lean back as far. You can also have a partner hold your feet for support.
Muscles worked: hamstrings, glutes, quads, outer thighs and abs.
Crunches with Ball
- Begin by sitting on top of a Swiss ball. Roll in the direction your head is pointed, until your lower back is supported by the curve of the ball.
- Either cross your arms over your chest or place your hands behind your ears. Do not put them behind the head or clasp them together behind your head.
- Exhale and crunch forward, using your abdominals, until you are at approximately a 45 degree angle to the ball. Keep your neck in a neutral position.
- Inhale and lower yourself back to the starting position, where your head wraps back around the ball.
- Try doing 2 sets of 15 crunches.
Special instructions: be sure to keep space between your chin and chest, so your spine stays in a neutral position. Balance yourself on the ball with as much upper body weight off the ball as possible without falling over backwards.
Muscles worked: abs.
Pendulum with Ball
- Sit on a mat and place a stability ball between your legs (at your calves/ankles).
- Squeezing the ball in place, lie back on the floor and extend legs straight up into the air. Keep knees slightly bent and arms out to the sides for support.
- Keeping upper body and glutes stationary, lower your legs down to the right, as close to the ground as possible.
- Return to start and repeat to the left side to complete one rep.
Special instructions: make sure your back stays firmly planted and that your legs swing in line with your hips (not above or below them).
Muscles worked: abs, obliques and hips.
- Lie on your back with knees bent and hands behind head.
- Lift legs and bend knees to 90 degrees.
- Keep a space between your chin and chest (looking diagonal towards the ceiling).
- Exhale and pull your knees in toward your chest and hold for 2 seconds.
- Inhale and slowly lower legs back to starting position.
Special instructions: don't use your momentum to swing your legs up. Try to keep the motion controlled by your abs.
Muscles worked: abs.