Spring Training: Strengthen Your Core

Some common factors in overuse injuries are lack of core stability, insufficient flexibility, and weak stabilization muscles leading to poor movement mechanics.  I’ve put together a workout that can help you address one of the most important factors in proper movement — core strength. If your core is weak, the rest of your muscles cannot function with maximum strength or efficiency because force can’t be transferred properly.

1. Reverse Crunch with Yoga Block
Start on your back, knees bent, with a yoga block or similarly sized object held between your legs just above the knee, shoulders firmly into the ground.  Brace your core muscles, and using the strength of your core (not momentum) contract your knees in towards your chest, bring them back down. Repeat x25.
kneeups

2. Plank (1 leg raised optional)
Keeping your shoulders firmly on your back and hips level, find your plank.  Drawing in the muscles around your abdomen to hold your hips level, lift one leg slightly off the ground. Hold for 30 seconds, repeat on the other side.
plank

3. Pendulum
Laying on your back, knees bent at a 90 degree angle and feet raised, holding a yoga block in that same position as the reverse crunch.  Brace your core, and slowly and with control drop your knees to one side, then the other, pulling up with your oblique muscles. It is important that you not feel any strain in your back when doing this.
rotate

4. 1 Leg Bridge
Lay on your back, shoulders firmly into the ground, knees bent and feet on the floor.  Lift up into a bridge, engaging your glutes, hamstring, and abdominals.  Bring one leg up, pulling your thigh towards your chest and holding a tennis ball in place. Keeping that leg in place, bring your hips down to the ground and immediately raise back up.  Repeat x25 on each side.
bridge

5. Charlie’s Angels
From a kneeling position, engage all core muscles, drawing in and bracing firmly.  Keeping the muscles strongly engage, slowly twist from side to side. Repeat x25.
charliesangels

6. Side Double Leg Lift
Lay on your side, and engage all core muscles.  Contract your obliques and lift both legs slightly up, keeping your body perpendicular to the floor.  Repeat x25 on each side.
leg lift

7. Dead Bug
Lay on your back, arms and legs extended.  Engaging all core muscles so that your spine is fully supported, bring your arms and legs up to vertical  Drop back down and repeat x25.  Do not do this exercise if you feel any strain in your back.
dead-bug

8. Seated Figure 8
From a seated position, hold a medicine ball fully extended out from you (a weight will also work.  Your daughter’s rainbow tie dye soccer ball can be called up in a photo prop pinch).  Bracing your torso with your core muscles so that the only thing moving is your arms, trace a figure eight with the ball.
figure8

9. Overhead Squat
Raising your arms overhead, drop down into a squat.  Making sure that your glutes and hamstrings are doing the bulk of the work, drive through your heels and return to standing.  For extra oomph, add a resistance band around your arms.

squat

Ryu singlet and Celtic shorts from http://www.inknburn.com .

And there you have it!  As always, do not do any exercises that you feel are not right for your body.

Jenn is a personal trainer at Manchester Athletic Club and is currently accepting new clients.  She can be reached at jbrooks@manchesterathleticclub.com.