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3 Fundamental Exercises for Functional Core Strength
Posted by Dr. Ben Kim on Aug 04, 2016
To develop core strength via forearm plank pose, press your elbows strongly into the ground to keep your shoulder blades separated (protracted), keep your head neutral (not extended up), and try to maintain a straight line through your shoulders, hips, and ankles.
In keeping your core engaged by contracting your abs and glutes, focus on not letting you pelvis creep up, which is called piking, and be equally mindful of not letting your abdomen and pelvis sag down toward the ground.
As you contract your abs and glutes, keep your feet working as well, with your ankles pressed together and toes pressing into the ground.
Hold for as long as you comfortably can, and work your way up to 60-second sets.
Forearm side plank twists are excellent for improving core strength - you'll feel these throughout your trunk, but mostly within your obliques.
Have your top leg resting slightly behind your bottom leg to keep your pelvis from rotating forward along with your trunk - you want your pelvis to stay high up off the ground and facing forward as much as possible while your trunk rotates downward as you bring your top elbow to the ground in front of your downside hand.
Be sure to press strongly into the ground with your downside forearm/elbow to fully activate the muscles that control your scapula.
You can do however many reps as you feel comfortable doing, working your way up to about 10 reps per side. Be sure to work both sides.
Russian Twists are excellent for developing functional core strength. Try to keep your feet and pelvis stable on the ground, lean back about 30 to 45 degrees, keeping your lower back straight and core engaged with your abs, have your arms straight out in front of you holding a light weight, and focus on rotating with your chest, not just with your arms. Once you fully rotate to one side as far as you can comfortably go, allow the weight you are holding to bring your hands closer to the ground, then lift up, and rotate in the other direction, all while keep your back reclined about 30 to 45 degrees.
Be sure to keep your core strong the entire time - a good cue is to keep your lower back straight as you keep your abs engaged. You don't want your lower back to curve out toward the ground behind you. As you get stronger, you can recline further as you do Russian Twists.
Over time, work your way up in repetitions. An ideal goal is about 10 repetitions to each side for one set.
For an overview of exercise progressions that you can work at to improve your mobility and balance in a systematic way, please feel free to visit our Mobility Exercise Progressions page here:
For some suggestions on how to set up a simple workout area at home, please feel free to view:
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