For both fitness newbies and well-seasoned training freaks, a strong and flexible core is at the root of almost everything you do. Core exercises improve balance, stability, and can help prevent falls and injuries during sports or other activities. These foundational exercises train the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen to work in harmony.
So how can you work on your core from the comfort of home with no equipment? We spoke to Hany Emam, a veteran in the health and fitness field and Development Manager at Gold’s Gym Beverly Hills, for some quick and easy exercises. Begin and end your workout by stretching for best results.
CAT CAMEL STRETCH
As you lower your spine, arch your neck backwards. Then arch your spine upwards forming a camel’s hump while lowering the neck to look between your arms and legs. Repeat 6 times.
KNEE TO CHEST STRETCH
Grab hold of your right knee and gently pull it up to your chest as close as possible, until you can feel a slight stretch in your lower back. Repeat with left leg.
CRUNCH & TABLETOP TWIST
For the traditional crunch, keep knees bent and exhale as you bring your rib cage up toward your pelvis. For tabletop twist, your legs should be at a 90-degree angle, as if your heels were resting on a tabletop. Elbows should be bent, hands resting lightly behind your ears. Exhale and lift your shoulders slightly off the mat using your abs only. Make sure that you do not pull your head up with your hands. Inhale and lower to start position.
On your back with knees bent to 90 degrees, twist your torso to lower your legs to the floor. Use your abs to return your legs to starting position, and then switch sides.
LYING SIDE CRUNCH
Lie on left side with legs stacked. Place right fingers behind head, keeping left arm on floor with elbow below shoulder. Lift legs and torso off floor, crunching right elbow toward top of right knee. Lower back to starting position without allowing feet or shoulder to touch floor. Repeat 10 times on each side.
Start by lying on the floor on your side. Your elbow should be underneath you. Lift your hips off the ground until your body is in a straight line. Hold that position for about half a minute or as long as you can. If you don’t hit the 30 to 45 second mark, lift again until you do. Turn over and do the other side.
Bring your knees up so that your thighs are perpendicular to the floor. Your calves should be parallel to the floor with your feet in the air. Gently lift your hips off the ground, contracting your abdominal muscles as you do. Inhale as you move your hips back down. Repeat 10 times.
This exercise may not primarily target the core, but it secondarily strengthens it. Good for glutes, hamstrings, and toning your core.
Hany Emam is a Certified Personal Trainer, Sports Performance Nutritionist, and Elite Trainer I with the International Sports Science Association (ISSA). He is also a specialist in Exercise Therapy, Aqua Fitness Master Trainer, and Spinning ®, RealRyder, BODYPUMP ™, TRX ®, RIP:60 ™, and BOXERCISE ® Instructor.