Engage Your Core

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hamstring-exercisesWhen working your core muscles it is important to remember that they exist to help you maintain balance and stability. For that reason, proper exercise of any part of your body will result in the strengthening of your core. Using the correct form is imperative to experience the best results.

Concentrate on your form when using one or more of these recommended core strengthening exercises:

Move Your Limbs, Not Your Core

The best exercises to strengthen your core don’t necessarily have you moving your core; they have you moving your arms and legs and maintaining strength and stability through your midsection. My favorite exercises for the core are:

1. Plank with mountain climber: get into plank position, then slowly pull one leg at a time towards your chest. You can add variety by pulsing your leg for three counts before changing sides.

2. Bridge leg lifts- get into bridge position from the floor. Place your hands on the floor or up in the air. Slowly lift one foot off the floor and straighten it up into the air. Release and switch.

3. Leg drops- lying on your back, bend both knees. Bring one leg up and either bend it (easier) or straighten it. Slowly bring your heel toward the floor, and keep you abs tight as you bring your leg back to starting. Repeat 10 times then switch sides.

Nicole Palacios, ACE and BCRPA Personal Trainer, Perfect Fit Personal Training

Taking It to the Core

Whenever people ask me about core exercises I love to emphasize to them the importance of Pilates exercises. Pilates exercises focus on strengthening those abdominal muscles to support and stabilize the hips and back. The specific exercises will also improve posture and mobility to give you better ease of motion in your daily activities. Both pilates mat exercises and equipment based training are deeply effective at targeting the core.

The intensity of the Pilates exercise program has a wide range to appeal to various fitness levels from beginner to advanced and including individuals who may have had previous injuries they are recovering from. When asked for the 5 min Pilates workout for those on the go to do at home or while traveling, I suggest the 100, the roll up, one leg circles, rolling like a ball, the Ab series of 5, spine stretch forward and finish with saw. Its a small handful of exercises to get your body warmed up and connected to the core and keep you going until your next session in the studio.

Natasha LaFayette, Owner, Pilates Institute Saratoga

How often do you focus on core strengthening exercises?

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