Image Credit: Michael Santamaria
Your core is the band around your middle - all of the muscles at the back, front and sides of your mid-section. A strong core is essential for your back health, posture and to stabilise you when you walk, run, twist and bend. As you age, you need to strengthen your core to protect yourself from back injuries.
Planks are one of the best exercises you can do for core strength. Depending on which plank variation you try, you will be engaging your back, arms, shoulders, glutes and hamstrings as well as your core muscles. Crunches are also excellent exercises for strengthening the core, building abdominals and flattening your stomach. To see results, you need to do this workout 3 - 4 times per week.
Straight Arm Plank
Start at the top of the push up position. Kneel on the floor with your hands directly underneath your shoulders. Support your body weight on your toes, contract your abdominals and straighten your legs. Keep your body in line from head to heels. Keep your eyes looking forward.
Stay in plank position for 30 seconds – 1 minute. Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
Straight Arm Plank With Leg Extension
From plank position, contract the hamstrings and glutes and hold one leg out straight, keeping your eyes forward. Hold for five seconds and then change leg. Repeat 10 times each side.
Get into elbow plank position: Lie face down on the floor. Lift your upper body and rest your weight on your forearms. Feet should be hip-width apart and elbows directly beneath your shoulders. Contract your abs to create a straight-line underneath you and from the head to the heels. Press your right hand into the mat and turn your body so your weight is on the outer edge of your right foot. Stack the left foot on top of the right foot. Press your torso up and away and extend the left arm towards the sky. Tighten your lower abs and brace the entire core section. Keep your elbow under your shoulder and keep your body in a straight line with no hip rotation.
Hold the position for 15 – 30 seconds and repeat 4 times each side.
Side Plank With Leg Lift
Keep your bottom knee flexed instead of straight. While keeping your core stable, raise your top leg without bending your knee and raise your arm to the sky. Don’t drop your hips. Hold for 15 – 30 seconds and return to starting position. Do 5 repetitions each side.
Plank With Arm And Leg Extension
Stand on your hands and knees in 4 point kneeling position, hands directly underneath your shoulders and knees directly beneath the hips, with arms fully lengthened without locking the elbows. Extend your right arm and left leg. Contract your core and use your arm muscles, glutes and hamstrings. Hold the position for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Keeping your core strong, bring your arm in and bend the knee to touch the opposite elbow to the opposite knee 10 times.
D0 2 sets of 12 repetitions each side.
Lie on your back with your left leg bent and the right leg straight. Extend your left arm out from the body. Keep your right arm above your head. Engage your core to crunch and twist so the right arm moves towards the opposite knee. Try to touch your right hand to your left ankle.
Do two sets of 12 repetitions each side.
Leg V Crunches
Lie with your arms by your side and your legs straight, hip width apart. Keep your arms and legs straight. Engage your core to lift your straight legs up and fold your waist and crunch to pull your chin into your knees.
Do 2 sets of 12 repetitions.
Eleonora Celada is an ex-professional swimmer, swimming coach and personal trainer. She has a Bachelor of Sports Science And Human Movement and lives in Milan. Follow her on Instagram @EleonoraCelada or email her at Trainer.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo Credit: Michael Santamaria @Santamaria_photos. Shot at Elwood Beach in Melbourne, Australia. Michael Santamaria is an experienced photographer living in Melbourne, Australia and specialising in portraiture, modelling, product and family photography. If you are looking for someone to capture a perfect shot, visit his website.