A six-pack is the ultimate goal of a good core workout, right? It looks great, and it lets you practice those slow-motion Baywatch runs into the surf while everyone looks your way in amazement just like the professionals. Sounds like the perfect reason to complete all of those crunches.
But, did you know that there are a few more important reasons as to why you should aim to strengthen your core? Your core isn’t just your abs, it also contains your lower back and side muscles, and helps improve your posture, protects your inner organs and central nervous system, and helps prevent injuries, especially if you’re working or studying all day.
We spoke to Personal Trainer and Deakin University exercise science student, Daphne Mantzanidis, who has put together a comprehensive abs and core workout that will get you sweating and strengthening one of the most important areas of your body, and the best thing? All you need is yourself and the motivation to get moving!
The bird-dog not only has a great name, it’s also a great cross core (left to right) neuro muscular activation. This means that because it’s a coordinated movement that engages both your anterior and posterior core to brace and move through your upper and lower limbs, it awakens the cross-core plane of movement and gets your whole body in sync. This means you’re also working your brain. The bird-dog is great for anything that requires coordinated movement, like a tennis serve.
Form: Daphne says to ensure that your spine is nice and neutral, with your elbows, wrists, and shoulders in a straight line. Make sure your opposite arm and leg are kept as close to the centre line of your body as possible.
The single leg slide is a great exercise that engages the rectus abdominus and hip flexors. It can be tailored for beginner or more advanced core levels. These can be performed anywhere ideally on a soft surface such as an exercise matt.
Form: move legs all the way out extending feet fist distance from the ground, can be performed with rounded shoulders in a V sit position (harder), or with a flat back on the ground for beginners
Predominantly for your lower core, the cross scissors also work your hip flexors. This one is predominantly for training your lower core, and you’re working your hip flexors as well. It’s a dynamic movement, so it’s important to go through the full range of movement. Dynamic movements are great for functional purposes, like walking or jogging in our everyday lives.
Form: Daphne says to ensure that you put your hands underneath your tailbone to protect your lower back, and to keep your shoulders square and off the ground. The goal is to position your body like a V during the exercise. Make sure you extend your legs without too much bend in the knee, as a straighter leg offers more rewards.
Like the cross scissors that you’ve just completed, russian twists are another functional movement that’s fantastic for functional purposes. Russian twists are great for working your internal and external obliques, meaning that you’re engaging your full abdominal muscles in one exercise.
Form: Ensure your neck is comfortable, and once again position your body like a V. Bend your knees, but keep your heels off the ground before you start the movement of the exercise.
Plank jacks are a great twist on the regular plank. Not only will you strengthen your core, but the dynamic nature of this exercise means you’ll get your heart rate up and pumping, and really start burning those calories. The dynamic movement works your core, as well as your upper body through the stabilisation that your arms will be engaged in.
Form: Daphne says to ensure that your shoulder position is in-line with your elbows and wrists, and that the horizontal plane from your shoulders to toes should be in a straight line. Your hips shouldn’t be dropping or coming up too high, and this will ensure that you stay nice and neutral through the spine.
Supermans are a great exercise for the glutes, hamstrings and back muscles. By controlling your movement across the left to right plane of your body, you engage your muscles and train your coordination within the same exercise, meaning you’re working your body and mind. These can be performed anywhere ideally on a soft surface such as an exercise matt.
Form: Daphne says to move with control, and to ensure you keep your opposing arm and leg close to the centre line of the body. It’s also important to move your neck slowly, and Daphne says to make sure you don’t rush to look up as you may strain your neck.
Need some new workout threads that help you look your best, keep you cool while you’re sweating, and help those in need? Check out Cotton On and Deakin University’s active wear range. Proceeds go to The Unite Project, which helps at-risk and homeless youth.
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