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All You Need to Know About the Core: 3 Foundation Exercises (Part 2 of 4)

19 Jul 2012
This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Core

So now that you’re sold on the benefits of the core, how do you work it out? As I mentioned in my previous post, it’s very likely that you are already training your core. Most exercises, when performed correctly, engage core musculature.

But there are some foundation exercises that will help you focus on activating your core. Mastering these basic moves will help you perform other exercises and activities more efficiently, including obstacle race training moves and running the actual race.

Here are 3 foundation moves.

1.The Drawing-in Maneuver

Although this is a basic exercise for beginners to fitness and core training, the drawing in maneuver is also a starting checkpoint for most exercises. Perform the drawing in maneuver on your feet and on the mat. Here’s how:

Standing

(Start) Stand tall with good posture, shoulder blades squeezed together, feet about hip-width apart.
(Move) Place one hand right above your belly button. Squeeze your abs, glutes, and tuck in your pelvis. Hold for 30-60 seconds.

If your back normally arches, you should feel that arch disappear or at least decrease as you do the “move” part of this exercise.

This drawing-in maneuver is actually how you activate your core and is typically the starting checkpoint for other standing exercises and activities. Think lunges, squats, jumps, etc.: all staples for your obstacle race training.

On-mat: The Pelvic Tilt

(Start) Lie with your back on a mat with your knees bent, feet on the mat.
(Move) Place one hand right above your belly button. Squeeze your abs, glutes, and tuck in your pelvis. You should feel the space between your lower back and the mat disappear once you’ve done this move. Hold for 30-60 seconds.

This pelvic tilt is how you activate your core and is typically the starting checkpoint for other exercises on the mat, like crunches and bridges.

2. Bridges

The bridge is a good, basic core exercise that will help promote proper core activation and also work your glutes, abs, and hamstrings.

If you’re an advanced exerciser, you may not feel the bridge working your core intensely, so this exercise may serve as a warm-up  for your core. If you’re a beginner, you should feel a mild burn!

(Start) Lie with your back on a mat with your knees bent, feet on the mat.
(Move) Perform a pelvic tilt: squeeze your abs, glutes, and tuck in your pelvis. Lift your hips off the mat while keeping your core activated. Hold for one second. Return to start and repeat for a total of 8-12 reps. Rest and repeat for a total of two sets.

This exercise can also be done using a chair or stability ball. Instead of bending your knees and placing your feet on the mat, you would straighten out your legs and place the back of your feet and lower legs on a stability ball or chair.

Stability Ball Bridge

3. Plank Hold

Even though the plank is a cornerstone in core training and can look simple, it’s can actually be quite challenging. But it’s worth doing. The plank helps you master core activation for exercises like the push-up, bird-dog (or quadrupeds), and similar exercises. Again, all staples of your obstacle race training session.

(Start) Lie face down on the mat resting on our forearms.
(Move) Activate your core and straighten out your legs to lift your body of the ground. You should be balancing your weight over your bent elbows and feet. Keep your core engaged and back straight. Try holding this for 30-60 seconds.

If holding the plank for a minimum of 30 seconds may be too challenging for you at this point, try to hold as long as you can. Aim to improve each time you perform this exercise.

Plank Hold

Looking Ahead: Advanced Exercises

These foundation exercises may be easy for some of you. Still, it’s good to go back to basics every now and then to ensure you are exercising with good form and mechanics. This will enhance your efforts to strengthen the anchor supporting your back and every physical move.

As an advanced exerciser, you can also use these moves as during your warm-up before the “work” bout of your training session or as part of your active recovery workout.

The next installment will get into additional exercises to make sure you are challenging your core!

 

Series Navigation<< All You Need to Know about the Core: Benefits (Part 1 of 4)All You Need to Know about the Core: Putting it All Together (Part 3 of 4) >>
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2 thoughts on “All You Need to Know About the Core: 3 Foundation Exercises (Part 2 of 4)

  1. Thanks! Just added you to my links on the right sidebar under Personal Health & Fitness.

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