The muscles throughout your midsection are working all of the time to keep your spine and hips properly aligned. Whether you're sitting or standing, your hips, lower back, abdominals and obliques and working together to maintain balance and stability.
A weak core leaves you more susceptible to both traumatic and overuse injuries. Daily activities and athletic movements place a greater load on the spine, which calls for a greater demand from your core muscles. Working your core regularly will ensure that the muscles are able to maintain proper spinal posture.
A core workout doesn't have to be extensive. In five minutes you can hit all of the major muscles.
Workout Details: Frequency, Reps, Weight
Like your other muscles, your abdominals, obliques, hip flexors and lower back require 48 hours of rest in between workouts. Complete this 5-minute circuit three days per week, with one day off in between. It works well as a workout finisher rather than as a warm-up because you don't want your core muscles to be fatigued before they begin the primary workout. Tack it on after you've finished with cardio or a weight training session.
Complete one set of 10 to 20 reps of each of the four exercises. Move from one directly into the next. It'll take you about five minutes to get through the entire session.
It may take some trial and error to find the right weighted plate. The idea is you want each of the four exercises to be challenging, but you don't want proper technique to go out the window. If you haven't been training your core consistently, start with a 5-pound or 10-pound plate. If you have been training regularly, opt for a 10-pound or 25-pound plate. Stronger and fitter individuals may even find a 35-pound of 45-pound plate is best. Gradually bump up the weight as you build strength. If you find yourself excessively jerking to complete reps, turn to a plate that's lighter.
These four core exercises are designed to target your abdominals, hip flexors and obliques.
Lying Leg Extensions
Lie on your back with your head next to a stable piece of equipment, such as a weighted bench. Bring your knees to your chest so that you can place the weighted plate atop your shins. Then, reach back behind your head and grab onto the bench of other stable equipment for stability. Extend your knees and push your feet out away from you, continuing until your heels are just an inch or so off the floor. Bend your knees and bring them to your chest again to complete the rep.
Seated Plate Twist
Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Hold the weighted plate at your chest. Recline back and pick your feet up off the floor. Twist your torso to the left, bringing the weighted plate with you, and then twist it to the right. Continue twisting back and forth until you're finish with all of the assigned repetitions.
Lying Flutter Kicks
Lie on your back with your legs extended. Hold the weighted plate with both hands and extend your arms back behind your head. Hold the weight off the ground as you lift both of your heels a few inches off the floor and rapidly kick your feet up and down in a scissor-like movement.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. It's best of you hook your toes under a piece of stable equipment, such as a weighted bench. Hold the weighted plate at your chest with both hands. Crunch your torso upward toward a sitting position. As your torso rises, press the weighted plate up overhead until your arms are fully extended. Lower the weighted plate back to your chest and then return your torso to the floor to finish the rep.