6 of the most important core exercises you'll ever do
When gym amateurs think about doing core exercises to get rid of love handles and to gain ripped abs, they probably think they must do tons of sit-ups and leg raises.
The truth is when we refer to "ab exercises," we're typically only targeting our transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis, and our internal and external oblique muscles. These are the four muscles that make up our abdominals. Our "core" consists of our abs plus many "stabilizer" structures like the pelvic floor, hip abductors, lower chest, and lower back. These are the areas many athletes target when they put themselves through a tough core workout.
Aside from getting those abs to pop out, having a strong core directly relates to how our bodies are balanced and our agility levels. As a bonus, a strong core helps promote our immunity, which can fend off colds and cases of flu while in season.
Unlike most muscle groups, putting ourselves through an intense core exercise program can be accomplished without using a single weight or having a ton of space. These movements can be done in virtually any location.
Out of the dozens of core exercises out there, we tend to go with these six movements three to four times a week to improve our overall health and wellness... and (we're not going to lie) to get ripped abs.
1. The "dead bug"
The name of this exercise might make it sound simple, but the dead bug is a lot harder to pull off than you think. You start off by positioning yourself like you're a dead bug turned over on its back. With your legs and arms extended upward, keep all those core muscles we spoke about as tight as possible before lowering one of your legs down to the floor. As you slowly lower your leg, your back will want to arch itself to assist you with the load.
Don't allow that to happen.
Keep your core tight as you bring your leg back up, and then repeat the whole process with the other leg. Continue onward until you hit failure. This is one of the best core movements in the book, so always keep this in mind when you're looking to tone up your tummy.
2. Scissor kicks
This is an exercise that many veterans want to forget about. We've done thousands of these bad boys during our command-led fitness adventures. Although you might not remember enjoying them during all your years of service, scissor kicks are a hell of a way to boost your body's balance and get those abs ripped.
This supinated exercise is as easy as just moving your feet sideways while contracting your core muscles. However, you can exhaust your core in a matter of moments. After you hit 40 or 50 reps, you can quickly move into conducting a series of flutter kicks while you're resting from all those scissor kicks you just did. Super setting your exercises burns more calories, which means you're going to tone up faster.
3. Russian twists
Although this movement sounds like a delicious vodka drink, it's actually one of the hardest core exercises to master. Sure the idea of twisting your body so your fingertips can touch your hips sounds easy, but to do this movement correctly, you must balance yourself or risk falling over.
And no one wants to be seen falling on their side at the gym. It just looks bad. So, to master it, slow the motion down until you build up enough core strength to balance yourself perfectly.
4. Alternating heel touches
We put this exercise here for a good reason. It's not just an excellent movement but it's also a great transitional motion after doing some Russian twists for a minute or two. Your core will probably feel like it's on fire but alternating heel touches can help you catch your breath while still allowing you to tone up. By merely going from the same Russian twist position, start to touch your hands to your heels and an alternative motion.
You'll feel this movement in your obliques and lower back.
Remember how we talked about gaining balance through these core exercises? V-ups are one of the best movements to train the core to stabilize itself. By starting in a supine position, raise your lower and upper body up from the floor and attempt to touch your fingertips to your shins.
As you continue to get better, the goal is to touch your fingertips to your toe without falling over. Strengthening your body is a gradual process, so alway monitor your pain levels at all time.
6. Two-point planks
Since the majority of the world has either heard of planks or seen someone do them, we want to challenge you by increasing its level of difficulty. After getting into a pushup position, raise up one leg up while lifting up the opposite arm to maintain your personal balance. After both limbs are extended for a second or two, lower them back down and proceed to lift your other limbs to complete the exercise.
We know it sounds super easy, but after a few cycles, you'll feel your whole body start to shake. Don't worry — that's normal, even for advanced plankers.
Fitness is all about making goals and then destroying them once you've achieved them. So, set that goal and then break it.
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