A strong core—which includes the abdominals, back chain, obliques, shoulders and upper hamstrings—is crucial for keeping the whole body happy and healthy during a variety of activities. Bellevue Club personal trainer Amy Clarke created a dynamic circuit to work all the dimensions of your core.
Exercise 1: Monitored Tummy Tilt
Targets transverse abdominals
For this exercise you will need a handheld blood pressure monitor. Begin on your back, and put the pressure cuff under your lower back at roughly belly button height while keeping the gauge in your hand. Tilt your pelvis until the lower back is flat and raise your legs to a 90-degree angle. Notice the number on the gauge, and then tap one foot at a time (or both for an advanced version) while maintaining the number on the gauge. Complete three sets of eight to 10.
Exercise 2: Dead Lift
Targets back and upper hamstrings, improves posture
Start standing with your feet hip-width apart and a strong grip on the bar (Amy suggests switching the grip to underhand on one hand and then switching sides for the following set). From the hips, hinge forward keeping your back straight and knees slightly bent until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Pushing through the feet, return to a standing position with your hips driving the motion. Complete three sets of eight to 10.
Exercise 3: Foam Roller Stabilization
Targets back, shoulders and glutes while improving balance
Start facedown in a pronated position on top of a long foam roller with all four limbs touching the ground. Simultaneously lift your right arm and left leg and then switch while balancing on the prop. Complete three sets of eight to 10.
Exercise 4: Side Plank Leg Raise
Targets obliques, abdominals and hip flexors while improving balance
Start in a side plank with your top leg on a bench or box. While maintaining your balance, raise and lower the bottom foot to meet the top foot. Switch sides and do the other leg. Complete three sets of eight to 10.
Exercise 5: Plank Cross-under
Targets shoulders, obliques, back and abdominals
Set up in a plank position with a light weight under one hand. Extending from the shoulder, raise the weighted hand straight out to the side. Then rotate and stretch the arm under your body to the other side. Return the arm out straight. Complete three sets of eight to 10.