Body Weight Training - Round 2: Core Training
When it comes to fitting your fitness in, few can deny that bodyweight-style exercises beat most other forms in both versatility and convenience. Able to be performed virtually anywhere, and with little-to-no equipment required, you definitely have all you need with just a bit of motivation and some floor space. In this post, we will focus on easy-to-do core exercises, to get that rock-hard middle you’ve always wanted. Most of these can be performed in different variations, at different levels of fitness.
A fundamental exercise, the plank is a good overall core move that works not only your core, but your shoulders, arms, and legs, too. To execute, assume a modified push-up position, with your arms bent at a 90 degree angle, and your forearms braced on the floor. Your elbows should be positioned under your shoulders, and your neck should be in neutral position, staring down at the floor. Your pelvis is tucked in, and your body forms a straight line, parallel to the floor. Push up into plank position and hold for as long as possible, and you’ve got the move down. You can make this move extra challenging by balancing your feet on an unstable surface, such as a bosu ball.
Most think that sit-ups rule in terms of ab exercises, but sit-ups are actually terrible for your back. Much better for you are crunches, which are performed in a similar way to sit-ups. Executable in a number of different ways, one of my favorite types of crunches is the double crunch. To execute, lay on the ground, place your hands on your ears - elbows out - and bend your knees. Contract your abdomen and bring your your shoulders up off the ground while simultaneously bringing your butt up and knees toward your chest. Exhale as you curl up, and inhale as you go back down to start. Never use momentum to propel yourself, and really focus on form as you perform reps. This move will work both upper and lower abs.
An advanced variation of the crunch, v-ups are performed with your arms and legs straight. To execute, lie down on your back and extend your arms up over your head. Exhale as you endeavor to bring your hands to your toes, until your body essentially forms a V shape. Inhale as you lower yourself back down to start. An easier, modfied version of this exercise involves the same motion, but with your arms and legs bent.
Another Variation on the crunch is called the Dead Bug. They may sound funny, but don’t feel funny - they burn. To execute, lie on your back with a neutral spine and your hips and knees at right angles, with your palms pressed into your thighs just above your knees. Extend your right arm and leg out until they are almost parallel to the floor. Return to the starting position, and repeat on the left side, to complete one rep. This move is not just great for your core, but will also work your lower back.
An effective plyometric-styled core move, mountain climbers will not only torch your midsection, but some serious calories, too. To perform, begin on the floor in plank position, with arms straight instead of bent. Pull your right knee quickly into your chest. Quickly shoot your right leg back out and then pull your left knee into your chest. As one knee quickly draws in and out, the opposite leg quickly shoots out and in. Repeat right and left side for a rep. Perform reps at timed intervals, or until you reach fatigue/failure. Things to keep in mind as you perform this exercise are to always keep your back and core muscles tight, and to always keep good plank form.
Core work lends itself especially well to equipment-free training. Build a stronger midsection and back with these basic moves, no equipment needed!