Abdominal & Lower Back – CORE - Exercises

What is meant by the CORE of the body?
In broad terms, the CORE of the body includes the muscles in the abdominal, lower-back and pelvic areas. Exercising the core muscles is the key to providing overall stability to your body, improving posture, supporting the spine and reducing the risk of back and other injuries. A strong core helps to transmit power to all your body movements – a must for athletes and everyone else.

Every movement you perform involves your core – whether it be moving, sitting down & standing up, lifting & pushing, bending, walking or carrying. ALL movements will be made easier & safer with a well-conditioned CORE – for all ages. More power, energy, control, safety and balance.

Why is it so tough to firm up the midsection?
This is the area in which the body will store fat to protect your large organs. See the section on “FitBall Exercises”.

A variety of exercises for the whole body is an integral part of shaping the abdominal section.

Instructions
1 – Abdominal Crunches.
Posture: Lie flat on your back, knees bent to 90 degrees.

Breathing: In through nose. Exhale from mouth.

Relax: Concentrate on muscles being stretched.

Muscle Groups: Upper Abdominals.

Lie flat on your back with knees bent to 90 degrees.Either link the fingers behind your head or place your hands on the upper abdomen. If you use the “behind your head” option, beware not to pull on the neck when doing the exercise. You can alternate the hand position during the exercise.

Inhale and slowly lift the whole upper body, don’t tuck the chin in, concentrate on the eyes looking at a spot on the ceiling, and exhale through the whole crunch. When you reach your maximum point, inhale and slowly return to the start position, and repeat for at least 8 repetitions at the start, slowly increasing the reps as you get stronger


2 –Abdominal Reverse Crunches.
Posture: Lie flat on your back, knees bent to 90 degrees.

Breathing: In through nose. Exhale from mouth.

Relax: Concentrate on muscles being stretched.

Muscle Groups: Lower Abdominals.

Lie flat on your back with knees bent to 90 degrees.Either link the fingers behind your head or place your hands on the lower abdomen. If you use the “behind your head” option, beware not to pull on the neck when doing the exercise. You can alternate the hand position during the exercise.

Inhale and lift the knees towards the chest whilst lifting the buttocks slightly. Exhale during the movement. Inhale and return the start position and repeat for at least 8 repetitions at the start, slowly increasing the reps as you grow stronger.


3 – Abdominal Combination Crunch.
Posture: Lie flat on your back, knees bent to 90 degrees.

Breathing: In through nose. Exhale from mouth.

Relax: Concentrate on muscles being stretched.

Muscle Groups: Lower & Upper Abdominals.

Lie flat on your back with knees bent to 90 degrees. Either link the fingers behind your head or place your hands on the lower or upper abdomen. If you use the “behind your head” option, beware not to pull on the neck when doing the exercise. You can alternate the hand position during the exercise.

Inhale and lift the knees towards the chest whilst lifting the upper body simultaneously. Exhale during the movement. Inhale and return the start position and repeat for at least 8 repetitions at the start, slowly increasing the reps as you grow stronger.


4 – Abdominal Crossover Crunch with Knee Cross.
Posture:Lie flat on your back, one knee bent to 90 degrees.

Breathing: Exhale from mouth..

Relax: Concentrate on muscles being stretched.

Muscle Groups: Upper and Side (Oblique) Abdominals.

Lie flat on your back with knees bent to 90 degrees.Either link the fingers behind your head or place your hands on the lower abdomen. If you use the “behind your head” option, beware not to pull on the neck when doing the exercise. You can alternate the hand position during the exercise.

Inhale and lift the upper body and do a slight twist of the shoulders so that the left elbow meets the right knee (as in the photo). Exhale during the movement. Inhale and return the start position and repeat for at least 8 repetitions at the start, slowly increasing the reps as you grow stronger. Repeat by bending the right knee with the left leg crossed.


5 – Abdominal Crossover Crunch
Posture:Lie flat on your back, one knee bent to 90 degrees.

Breathing: In through nose. Exhale from mouth.

Relax: Concentrate on muscles being stretched.

Muscle Groups: Lower, Upper & Side (Oblique) Abdominals.

Lie flat on your back with knees bent to 90 degrees. Link the fingers behind your head.

Inhale and lift the one knee towards the opposite side elbow which is being raised and twisted to meet it, whilst lifting the upper body simultaneously. Exhale during the movement. Inhale and return the start position and repeat with the same elbow to shoulder for at least 8 repetitions at the start, slowly increasing the reps as you grow stronger. Repetitions are counted on one leg only. Repeat for the other leg and shoulder/elbow.


6 – Abdominal Crossover Legs Raised
Posture:Lie flat on your back, one knee bent to 90 degrees.

Breathing: In through nose. Exhale from mouth.

Relax: Concentrate on muscles being stretched.

Muscle Groups: Lower, Upper & Side (Oblique) Abdominals.

Lie flat on your back with knees bent to 90 degrees. Link the fingers behind the head, and beware not to pull on the neck when doing the exercise.

Lift both feet off the floor unti the lower leg is parallel to the floor. Inhale and then simultaneously lift the upper body and turn say the right shoulder to meet the left knee coming towards the chest. The other leg remains in the start position. Exhale during the movement. Inhale whilst returning the upper body to the start position, whilst the left leg moves to the 90 degree parallel position and the right leg starts to come towards the chest to meet the rising upper body as it twists. The movement resembles riding a bicycle Return the start position and repeat alternative legs and shoulders for at least 8 repetitions at the start, slowly increasing the reps as you grow stronger. Repetitions are counted on one leg only.


7a - Abdominal Side Crunches Start
Posture: Lie flat on your side with knees slightly bent.

Breathing: In through nose. Exhale from mouth.

Relax: Concentrate on muscles being stretched.

Muscle Groups: Side (Oblique) Abdominals.

Lie on your one side with knees bent.Place you right hand on the side below the ribcage.Note the position of the left upper arm & elbow, as this will be a critical pivot as you reach the upper level of the movement.

Inhale and lift the upper body.


7b - Abdominal Side Crunches Finish
Posture: Lie flat on your side with knees slightly bent.

Breathing: In through nose. Exhale from mouth.

Relax: Concentrate on muscles being stretched.

Muscle Groups: Side (Oblique) Abdominals.

Lie on your one side with knees bent.Place you right hand on the side below the ribcage.Inhale and lift the upper body.

Exhale on the way up to your comfortable maximum position and inhale again on the return of the upper body to the start position. Concentrate on the movement and don’t place any strain on the neck.


8a - Abdominal Roll Knee Grip
Posture: Sit upright.

Breathing: In through nose. Exhale from mouth.

Relax: Concentrate on muscles being stretched.

Muscle Groups: Upper & Lower Abdominals.

Sit upright with your knees pulled in to your chest, arms folded around the knees and head tucked in to the knees.Inhale and tuck in the abdomen. Then, using the abdomen muscles propel yourself backwards to reach your maximum position on your back, holding on to your knees throughout the movement.

Try to relax the whole body except for the abdominals.


8b – Abdominal Roll Knee Grip
Posture: Sit upright.

Breathing: In through nose. Exhale from mouth.

Relax: Concentrate on muscles being stretched.

Muscle Groups: Upper & Lower Abdominals.

Then, using the abdomen muscles propel yourself backwards to reach your maximum position on your back, holding on to your knees throughout the movement. Try to relax the whole body except for the abdominals.Swing forward and up to reach the start position whilst inhaling. On reaching the seated start position, inhale and swing backwards again whilst exhaling.

Repeat for at least 5 repetitions to start, slowly increasing the number as you get in to the movement and gain more strength.


9a - Abdominal Backward Roll Ankle Grip Start
Posture: Sit upright.

Breathing: In through nose. Exhale from mouth.

Relax: Concentrate on muscles being stretched.

Muscle Groups: Upper & Lower Abdominals.

Sit upright with your knees pulled in to your chest, hand clasped together at the ankles. Head is held upright and relaxed.

Inhale and tuck in the abdomen. Then, using the abdomen muscles propel yourself backwards to reach your maximum position on your back, holding on to your ankles throughout the movement.

Try to relax the whole body except for the abdominals.


9b Abdominal Backward Roll Ankle Grip Finish
Posture: Sit upright.

Breathing: In through nose. Exhale from mouth.

Relax: Concentrate on muscles being stretched.

Muscle Groups: Upper & Lower Abdominals.

Then, using the abdomen muscles propel yourself backwards to reach your maximum position on your back, holding on to your ankles throughout the movement. Try to relax the whole body except for the abdominals.Swing forward and up to reach the start position whilst inhaling. On reaching the seated start position, swing backwards again whilst exhaling.

Repeat for at least 5 repetitions to start, slowly increasing the number as you get in to the movement and gain more strength.


10 - Abdominal Cycle
Posture: Start by lying flat with the knees bent and your hands on the side of your hips with the fingers facing each other towards the lower spine.

Breathing: In and out through the mouth.

Relax: Concentrate on muscles being stretched.

Muscle Groups:All the Abdominal muscles.

This is a bicycle pedaling action.

Swing up with the legs and hips until they are in a vertical position whilst you are supporting the body at the hips with your elbows entrenched on the floor for balance.Now, whilst taking shallow breaths, start pedaling in as wide a circular movement as possible. Count for 10 – 15 revolutions to start slowly increasing as you improve your strength and balance.


11 – Lower Abdominal Crunch using a FitBall
Posture: Lie with your middle back area on a FitBall.

Breathing: Exhale from mouth.

Relax: Concentrate on muscles being stretched.

Muscle Groups: Upper Abdominals.

Lie on a FitBall as shown, with the feet more than shoulder width apart for balance.

Hands are clasped behind your head. Inhale and slowly raise the upper body whilst exhaling. Return to the start position whilst inhaling ready for the next repetition. Do at least 5 repetitions as a start, increasing slowly as you improve in strength and technique.

An alternative is to swing the shoulders slight left and then right alternatively with each repetition. This should be attempted only after you have become more accustomed to the movement.


12a – Abdominal Lower Back Curl Start
Posture: Start on all fours.

Breathing: In through nose. Exhale from mouth.

Relax: Concentrate on muscles being stretched.

Muscle Groups: Abdominals & Lower Back.

This is a very safe & effective exercise for all age groups. Start by hunching the back as much as possible whilst inhaling. Hold for a second or two and exhale at the same time as you arch the lower back.


12b Abdominal Lower Back Curl Finish
Posture: Start on all fours.

Breathing: In through nose. Exhale from mouth.

Relax: Concentrate on muscles being stretched.

Muscle Groups: Abdominals & Lower Back.

Hold for a second or two in the hunched position and then exhale at the same time as you arch the lower back to its maximum.

Repeat this sequence for 8 – 10 repetitions.

Every other part of the body is relaxed. All the emphasis is on the abdominals and lower back.


13 - Abdominal Reverse Crunch with FitBall
Posture: Lie on your back.

Breathing: In through nose. Exhale from mouth.

Relax: Concentrate on muscles being stretched.

Muscle Groups: Lower Abdominals.

Place the FitBall under your calves & tucked in close to your hamstrings and buttocks.

Grab the FitBall with your heels , inhale & lift the FitBall as high as possible & towards you whilst exhaling. Repeat for 8 – 12 repetitions.


14 - Pelvic Raise
Posture: Lie flat on your back with knees bent.

Breathing: In through nose. Exhale from mouth.

Relax: Concentrate on muscles being stretched.

Muscle Groups: Gluteus (Buttocks) and Lower Back.

Place your hands lightly on your abdomen. Breathe in before starting the movement which is to raise the hips as high as possible. During the upward movement, squeeze the buttocks and lower back muscles, exhale and the hold for a second or two at the top position. Then slowly lower the hips under control whilst breathing in to be ready for the next repetition. Do at least 5 repetitions to start slowly increasing to 12.


15a - Pelvic Raises from Seated Start
Posture: Sit with knees bent at 90 degrees.

Breathing: In through nose. Exhale from mouth.

Relax: Concentrate on muscles being stretched.

Muscle Groups: Gluteus (Buttocks), Lower Back & Hamstrings.

Place your hands behind your body with the fingers facing backwards. Bend the knees to a 90 degree angle and lean slightly backwards. Breathe in before starting the movement which is to raise the hips as high as possible.


15b - Pelvic Raises from Seated Finish
Posture: Sit with knees bent at 90 degrees.

Breathing: In through nose. Exhale from mouth.

Relax: Concentrate on muscles being stretched.

Muscle Groups: Gluteus (Buttocks), Lower Back & Hamstrings.

Breathe in before starting the movement which is to raise the hips as high as possible. During the upward movement, squeeze the buttocks and lower back muscles, exhale and the hold for a second or two at the top position. Then slowly lower the hips under control whilst breathing in to be ready for the next repetition. Do at least 5 repetitions to start slowly increasing to 12.


16 - Lower Back Leg & Opposite Arm Extension.
Posture: Start on all fours with back straight.

Breathing: In through nose. Exhale from mouth.

Relax: Concentrate on muscles being stretched.

Muscle Groups: Gluteus and Lower Back.

Breathe in and slowly extend say the right leg backwards whilst at the same time extending the left arm forwards. Hold the stretch for a second or two and exhale on the way to the full extension. Inhale whilst bringing the leg and arm back to the start position and repeat for say 5 repetitions at the start. Repeat with the left leg and right arm.


17 - Lying FitBall Gluteus Kicks.
Posture: Lie flat on a FitBall with back straight.

Breathing: In through nose and exhale from mouth during the exercise. Don’t hold your breath.

Relax: Concentrate on muscles being stretched.

Muscle Groups: Gluteus and Lower Back.

The FitBall should be at hip level for beginners. The further the body moves backwards, the more difficult the exercise. Straighten the legs as much as possible and flex the toes inwards. Raise and lower each leg alternatively like a crawl without bending at the knees. Count on one side for 8 repetitions at the start slowly increasing to 20 and more.

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