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More than just Abs…..Get to the “CORE”

More than just Abs…..Get to the “CORE”

By Geri McGurk BS, NASM CPT, CITS, PGFA, owner High Definition Personal Training Center, Wayne

Want a toned mid-section? Less back pain? A better golf swing?

Crunches and sit-ups alone just aren’t enough! Your exercise routine should incorporate the muscles of your entire trunk and torso. You need to target the muscles that support your back and spine maintaining posture, that help you to effectively move in all directions, as well as those that allow you to bend and rotate. These are the “core” muscle groups.

The most effective core strengthening exercises contract the front and back muscles simultaneously. There are many good core exercises that can be done right at home with no equipment. When starting a core program begin with basic exercises that can then be progressed as your body gets stronger.

The exercises that follow will get you started with a good core training regimen, however you should first practice what is called a “draw-in maneuver” which will aid in the effectiveness of all core movement.

Simply pull the area just below your belly button in toward your spine prior to beginning each exercise.

Exercise 1.       PLANK

Lie on your stomach with arms bent, palms and forearms on the floor, fingers pointed forward, legs together and extended, toes tucked under. Contract your core muscles by “drawing-in” then raise your entire torso off the floor keeping palms, forearms and toes in contact with the floor. Keep your body in a straight line without sagging your low back, hiking your hips upward or shrugging your shoulders. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds. Over time, practice until you can hold for 60 seconds.

Exercise 2.       SIDE PLANK

Lie on your right side with your legs extended and your feet stacked one atop the other. Prop up your torso by positioning your right arm on ground with elbow directly under shoulder with your forearm flat against the floor.  Place your left hand on your left hip. Contract your core muscles by “drawing-in” then raise your hips and knees off the floor. Keep your head aligned with your spine. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds, and then repeat on the other side. Over time, practice until you can hold for 60 seconds.

Exercise 3.       SUPERMAN

Lie on your stomach, arms extended straight out in front of you. With your forehead about an inch off the floor contract your core muscles by “drawing-in” then raise your right arm and left leg off the floor and hold for a 2 count. Alternate sides next lifting your left arm and right leg. Keep alternating sides for 20-30 repetitions.

Exercise 4.       REVERSE CRUNCH

Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor hip width apart. Extend your arms out to the side palms down. Contract your core muscles by “drawing-in” then lift your hips off the ground rolling your knees toward your shoulders. Try to keep your knees at a right angle. Pause, then lower back to starting position. Repeat for 10-30 repetitions.

Exercise 5.       BRIDGE

Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor hip width apart. Arms at your side palms down. Contract your core muscles by “drawing-in” then lift your hips off the ground creating a straight line with your torso from your shoulders to your knees. Your shoulders stay in contact with the ground. Pause, then lower back down to the starting position.               Repeat for 10-30 repetitions.

Remember to always check with your physician before beginning any exercise program.

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About Geri McGurk

BS, NASM CPT, CITS, CPR/AED - Owner/Certified Personal Trainer - Geri McGurk has made a life career in Health and Fitness. She has been a personal sports and fitness trainer for more than 35 years. A graduate of Montclair State University, she holds both a BS in Physical Education and Health Education, is a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer, and an IFORM Training Specialist. Throughout her career as a Personal trainer, Geri has developed specialization in the areas of post rehab strength, osteoporosis, adolescent fitness, senior fitness, sport specific training, and body building. "It has always been my dream to own a facility that reaches out to all populations. My main goal is to provide a variety of personal training options that are well within the reach of anyone with the desire to make the most of their fitness training and to provide them with the physical benefits and knowledge necessary for a better quality of living."

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