Beyond Sit-Ups: 10 Core Conditioning Exercises

When it comes to core conditioning exercises, the abs are the first thing that springs to mind. While the abdominals are clearly part of the core, there are a lot of muscles that crunch and similar exercises simply don’t work. A weakness in these muscles can leave you vulnerable to all sorts of injury. This is typically true to those living a sedentary lifestyle. Whether you’re recovering from having given birth or working an office job, a lack of regular and complete core strengthening routine can cause problems. Step up your workouts with these 10 Core Conditioning Exercises.

The Benefits of Core Conditioning Exercises

In order to understand the benefit of core conditioning exercises, it’s important to understand the core muscles. Basically, the core is the part of the body from which all power comes. Every movement we do starts from the core. Because of this, it’s critical to have a solid core strength to prevent injury. There are other benefits as well.

Tummy Vacuums

The tummy vacuum is a low exertion exercise designed to get the transverse abdominals working again. It’s a great way for women to ease their way into a regular exercise regimen. To start, position yourself on all fours, with hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Keep your spine straight. First, you’ll inhale into the belly, and as you exhale, you’ll draw in your stomach you’ll want to inhale, and as you do, pull in your stomach. Hold your breath for a bit, and then breathe in and relax your muscles.

Clamshells

Clamshells are a great core conditioning exercise for external hip rotations. Laying on one side, stack your hips and your ankles and keep your knees bent at about 45 degrees. If you are laying on your right side, the right arm should be extended straight out, supporting your head; vice versa for the left. From there, draw in the belly, similar to the tummy vacuum exercise, and lift the uppermost leg up about three inches or so, and hold. Then, release and lower the leg. You should feel the exercise in your glutes.

The Dead Bug

As the name implies, the dead bug exercise utilize an inverted crawling motion to stimulate core muscles and promote stability. Starting on your back, extend your arms straight up and lift your legs, keeping the knees bent at a 45 degree angle. From this position, extend one leg and the opposite arm.

Band Anti Rotation

For this exercise, a resistance band is used to work core stability and strength. Anchor the resistance band to a surface to one side of you (a door or a bar works fine). Stand with your feet just over shoulder-width apart, with your arms fully extended straight in front of you, holding the band. The tension in the band will encourage you to rotate, but you must fight this urge and keep your body straight and facing forward.

Lunge and Twist

Stand with your feet together holding a medicine ball with both hands. Keep your abs tight. Step forward and lunge to the ground, keeping your shoulders over the back leg. From there, rotate in the direction of your front leg using your ab muscles, and then rotate back. Push off with your heel to engage glute muscles as you return to the starting position.

Seated Oblique Twist

This exercise requires a stability ball and a medicine ball. Sit on the stability ball with your feet flat on the floor. Hold the medicine ball out in front of you with both hands. Your arms should not be completely extended. Alternate turning 90 degrees first to one side, then the other.

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Bird Dog

This exercise is similar to the Dead Bug. However, instead of starting on your back, you will start on hands and knees, with your knees below your hips and your hands below your shoulders. From here, you mimic the dead bug extension, extending one leg and the opposite arm, and then switching to complete your reps. Remember, reach out, not up.

Arm and Leg Raise, Stability Ball

This exercise takes the Bird Dog one step further; instead of balancing on your hands and knees, take the Bird Dog position over a stability ball. As you perform the exercise and extend your arms and legs, you have the added challenge of keeping yourself balanced upon the stability ball.

Basic Pushup

You might be surprised to find pushups on this list, but when you’re going down and coming back up, guess which group of muscles stabilizes and supports you throughout the motion. Yes, it’s your core muscles. Start with your feet together and your hands in line with your shoulders. Slowly lower yourself to the ground, keeping your back straight and your tummy tucked. Hold for a moment, then push yourself back to the starting position. If you are having trouble moving your entire body weight, you can begin the exercise resting on your knees instead of your feet.

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Plank

Similar to the pushup, keep your feet together and your arms beneath your shoulders, resting your weight on your forearms. Lift your body so that your back is straight, keeping your abs tight. Hold this position for several seconds.

Core conditioning is about way more than the abs. Get away from crunches and sit ups and see real results by incorporating these core conditioning exercises into your core workouts. Regardless of your personal fitness level, these gentle exercises are a great way to increase your strength and stability while helping you to look and feel great.

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