Caroline’s Ultimate Core Workout Part 2

If you’ve tried and tested my Part 1 ‘crunch free’ core exercises from the last edition and you’ll be feeling the benefit both in posture and appearance, you’re ready to move on and add some even more fabulous moves to your abdominal exercise bank.

It’s often reported that people identify their core as the key area they would most like to improve, with a ‘six pack’ being high on their agenda. So, with summer holidays fast approaching it’s time to get that core in check. Confidence on the beach, in unforgiving summer clothing and in the gym can rocket sky high when your stomach is toned and honed to perfection.

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A weak core equals wasted energy

But let’s not be too vain as there are the functional improvements to consider too. If you’re thinking of playing some tennis or cricket this summer or getting into the World Cup spirit with some footie, then a strong core is a must. For every ball you hit or running foot-strike you make, there will be a transfer of energy.

The more energy you can transfer from your muscles to the racket, bat or ball, or ground, for example, then the more power you will generate. A weak core equals wasted energy. I’m often asked what are the best core exercises to get a flat, toned stomach. The answer: those that are most functional. So to look good and perform at your best I’ve included exercises that strengthen the abdominals, back, hips and shoulder girdle in part 2 of the workout.

How to perform the circuit:

Equipment: Gymball and medicine ball

Start by performing one set of each of the exercises, taking 30 seconds’ rest between each. Build up to performing three circuits, gradually reducing the rest time between exercises. Start with 1-2 minutes’ recovery between each circuit and gradually reduce this as well as your fitness develops.

Abdominal exercises can be performed as an isolated workout or prior to, or following another of your workouts, such as a cardio session. You can even drop them into a whole body circuit. However, be careful not to over fatigue your core before performing exercises that may require its support, for example weight training and in particular overhead lifts.

The circuit

1. Gymball side plank

Rest your forearm on the gymball and stack your feet on top of one another. Slowly lower and raise your hips keeping your body straight and core strong.

Do: 10 reps each side.

Progression: raise your upper arm and outer leg.

Crunch time2

 2. Lower Body Russian Twist

Lie on your back with your arms in a crucifix position, palms facing upwards. Raise your legs to 90-degrees holding a medicine ball between your feet. Lower your legs from side to side without touching the floor, keeping your shoulders in contact with the ground.

Do: 10 reps each side.

Progression: increase the weight of the medicine ball.

crunch time3

3. Front Plank with Arm raise

Assume a front plank position with feet beyond shoulder-width apart. Keep your back flat and slowly lift one arm to 45-degrees, return to the ground and then slowly raise the other arm. Alternate sides ensuring your hips do not shift from side to side.

Do: 10 reps each side.

Progression: bring your feet closer together.

crunch time4

4. Upper Body Russian Twist

Lie with your shoulders in contact with a gymball and feet placed flat on the floor. Maintain a 90-degree angle at your knees and keep your hips up. Hold a dumbbell (or medicine ball) in both hands above your head and rotate it from side to side. Allow only a small amount of movement at the hips.

Do: 10 each side.

Progression: increase the weight of the dumbbell/medicine ball.

crunch time5

5. Front plank with internal leg rotation

Start in a standard front plank position with your forearms in contact with the ground. Internally rotate one knee towards its opposite elbow squeezing your abs as you do so. Return to the start position and repeat with your other knee bringing it to its opposite elbow.

Do: 10 reps each side.

Progression: perform all reps on one side without allowing your toe to touch the ground between reps before switching sides.

6. Front plank with external leg rotation

Start position as for exercise 5. Externally rotate one knee towards your same side elbow squeezing your abs as you move. Return to the start position and repeat with your other knee taking it towards its same side elbow.

Do: 10 reps each side.

Progression: as for exercise 5.

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