Friday, December 5, 2008

Hard Core

Over the last several weeks I've developed a new core routine that really seems to work me over good. I thought I'd share:

For each move, you'll do 3 sets. Ideally, you'd do 15 reps in each set. I started with 15-10-5, then 15-12-9, and today did 15-12-12. So I'm getting there.

Move #1: Hanging Leg Lifts
If your gym has them, hook up the arm holsters onto a pullup bar. Otherwise, just hang on to the bar (this is a bit harder). Let your legs hang, then think about tipping your pelvis forward, then lift your knees, toes straight down. For more advanced move, straighten legs out parallel with the ground. Slowly return to hanging. That's one rep.

Move #2: Seated Ab Crunch
Sit on the edge of a stable chair or bench. Place your hands next to your butt and grip the front of the seat. Lean back slightly and extend your legs down and away, keeping your heels 4 to 6 inches off the floor. Bend your knees and slowly raise your legs toward your chest. At the same time, lean forward with your upper body, allowing your chest to approach your thighs. For more challenge, focus on squeezing your knees together as you bring them up.

Move #3: Medicine Ball Twist
Either sit on the floor, knees bent so that your upper body is at about a 45 degree angle, or lie back on a stability ball. Grab a 5- to 10-pound medicine ball and hold it straight out from your chest. Rotating from your upper hips/lower wiast, twist your upper body as far to the right as possible, keeping the ball in line with your chest. Then immediately rotate to the left. That's 1 rep.

Move #4: Pushups on the Ball
Place your lower legs on a stability ball and get in a pushup position. Keeping your back straight, do a pushup. That's one rep. For more challenge, add a pike in between pushups: use your core to pull the ball toward your face. Hold for a second, then roll back out until your body is straight.

Move #5: Arm Pull Over Straight Leg Crunch
Grab a pair of 2- to 10-pound dumbbells and lie on your back with your arms behind you. Extend your legs at a 45-degree angle. Bring your arms up over your chest and lift your shoulders off the mat while raising your legs until they're perpendicular to the floor. Return to start (don't let your legs touch the floor). That's 1 rep. For more challenge, really concentrate on going slow, and make sure you're touching the floor behind you with the weights.

Give it a shot, see what you think. I think it's a pretty well-rounded routine that works all parts of your core-- including the lower back. But I might be missing something. So give it a try, see what you'd add!

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