4 Moves to Get A Stronger Core In 4 Weeks

There are many benefits to improving your core strength - better balance and efficient movement patterns which improve overall strength for sports performance as well as injury prevention and rehabilitation of old injuries. When discussing the core, it is important to note that the core is more than just your abdominal muscles. Your core is the trunk of the body - the shoulder girdle to the hip girdle. Training the core to engage as one unit can change the way you feel and perform. Here are four exercises that can be performed in 5 minutes every day to help strengthen your core in 4 weeks. Perform each exercise for one minute.

1. 100's

This classic Pilates exercise is excellent for building abdominal strength while establishing shoulder and pelvic stability. Plus the coordination of adding the advanced option will build your endurance quickly. Lay on your back with your hands at sides, exhale to float your knees to a 90 degree angle and your upper body off the floor - pressing your shoulders down away from the ears. Begin to inhale through your nose and pat your arms towards the floor 5x and exhale through your mouth 5x. To make the exercise more advanced lengthen your legs and begin to lower your legs on the inhale and lift them back up on the exhale. Perform for one minute.

2. Flexion with Ball at Back

Flexion and hinging exercises are a fantastic way to strengthen your back and abdominal wall. Place a small soft ball between your lower back and bottom rib. Bend your knees with feet on the floor and place your fingertips behind your head. Inhale to hinge your body open (keeping the spine long) and exhale to fold over the bottom rib without collapsing the upper body. At the same time lift one knee into your chest like you are sandwiching your body together. Keep your elbows wide, neck open, and shoulders pressing down so you do not collapse through the shoulder girdle and pull on the neck. Perform for one minute.


3. Half Plank with Double Knee Taps

Full and half planks are full body exercises used to strengthen the chest, back, abdominals, glutes and quads. You can do these next two exercises on full or half plank depending on your wrist strength. Place your forearms on the floor and stack your shoulders over the elbows. Tuck your toes into the mat and lift your knees off the floor. Your pelvis should have an imprinted position which means your pubic bone is slightly tipped towards your belly button to protect your lower back. Squeeze your glutes and inner thighs while lengthening your neck and pulling your chest through slightly to keep your shoulders stacked and pressed down (press forearms into mat and think about the shoulder blades laying flat across the ribcage - not pushing away from one another or collapsing together). Inhale to lower knees to the floor and exhale to lift them back to starting position without letting your pelvis bounce with the movement. Perform for one minute.

4. Thread the Needle with Weight

This exercise works the lateral sides of the body for that chiseled waistline while strengthening the shoulders and legs. Lay on your side and place your left forearm on the mat and stack your shoulder directly over the forearm. Press your forearm into the mat and lengthen your shoulder down away from the ear as you lift your hips into the air. Your opposite hand will be straight to the sky with a hand weight. Exhale and lift your hips up towards sky so your body makes a rainbow shape and begin to rotate your hips and chest towards the floor while wrapping your top hand under and reach towards the back wall. Inhale to unwind and come back to starting position. Perform for one minute and then repeat on the other side.

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About the Author

Jennifer McCamish is the owner of Dancers Shape, a Pilates and barre fitness studio in Austin, Texas. A former NYC Radio City Rockette with over 30 years of dance experience and training from legendary institutes around the country, McCamish has worked or performed with many well-known celebrities, television shows and publications. Utilizing her professional knowledge and education, she created Dancers Shape, a unique approach to fitness, incorporating elements of ballet, yoga, Pilates and circuit training to efficiently build strength and muscle tone while maintaining a lean and nimble body. McCamish holds a BA in Dance from the University of Texas in Austin, Athletic Training in Injury Prevention for Dancers from Radio City Entertainment, is a STOTT PILATES Certified Instructor including Injuries and Special Populations, Cooper Institute Certified Personal Trainer, IDEA Fitness and Wellness member, and is certified in CPR-First Aid. She is a certified instructor including injuries, special populations and golf conditioning. Read more about Jennifer.