Five Core Crushers for Bikini Ready Abs
Fall is officially here, which means bye-bye bikinis and hello boots and cozy sweaters. With cooler weather allowing us to show less skin, we can all become a little lax in our workout regimens. With the added temptations of the holidays, it's easy to let ourselves go, but with these five core crushes, you can keep your bikini ready belly all year round. When you’re working hard to keep sculpted abs, it might be just a little easier to pass on holiday treats and reach for healthier options instead.
Not only do defined abs look great, they also help protect the spine and enhance balance and stability, which can help prevent falls and sports injuries. Weak core muscles equal slouching. Good posture projects confidence, allows for deeper breath, and reduces wear and tear on the spine.
1. The Plank
Not only does the plank pose work your entire core, it also sculpts and strengthens your arms, thighs, and bottom.
Kneel on the mat on all fours. Engage your core and stretch your legs back one at a time coming onto the balls on your feet and into the plank pose with your shoulders stacked over your wrists. It looks like the top of a pushup. Your body should be in one long straight line. Imagine drawing your naval up to the base of your spine. Create tension through the backs of your legs and squeeze your glutes. To start, hold for 30 seconds. Work your way up to two minutes by adding a few more seconds with each workout.
2. The Hundred
This Pilates move is sure to make you shake but well worth the effort! It quickly warms up your body, gets your blood moving, increases torso stability, and of course helps you develop core strength.
Lie on your back with your legs bent and arms by your sides with palms facing down. Inhale, and as you exhale, stretch your legs to a 45 degree angle in the air and lift your head and shoulders off the mat. Begin to vigorously pump your arms up and down. Use your breath to guide you through the move, by inhaling for five pumps and exhaling for five pumps. Keep doing this for 100 pumps or ten full breaths. Then relax. Remember to keep your abs actively engaged throughout the entire exercise.
3. The Russian Twist
This exercise mainly targets your obliques, however it engages your back muscles which help protect and support your spine.
Begin by sitting on your mat. Bend your knees and lean back slightly, being mindful not to curve your spine. You can choose to lift your legs into the air, or keep your feet on your mat, depending on your fitness level. Clasp your hands and reach them out in front of your chest. Draw your naval toward your spine and exhale as you slowly twist to one side. Inhale as you come up to the center, then exhale as you twist to the opposite side. Thats one rep. Do three sets of 8-12 repetitions.
4. Side Plank
The side plank works your entire core but specifically targets an often weak muscle called the quadratus lumborum, which connects the pelvis to the spine and is often the source of lower back pain.
Begin in plank. Shift your right hand to the center of the mat, being careful to keep it in line with your shoulder. Roll onto the outer edge of your right foot and stack your left foot on top. Lift your hips upward, then slowly unfold your left arm toward the sky creating a long line. Root your right hand into the ground, while feeling energized throughout the body. Make sure to keep your back lengthened with your tailbone tucking down toward your heels. Hold as long as you can without letting your hips drop. Work up to one minute on each side.
Bridge pose works your glutes and hamstrings, whilst engaging your core to help control the lifted leg.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place your arms by your sides with your palms pressing against the floor. Tighten your core and ground your heels, as you slowly lift your pelvis up. Keeping your hips square and pelvis lifted, begin to raise your right leg and point your toes towards the ceiling. Hold for five breaths, then place your foot back down and lower down to the mat. Repeat on the opposite side.
All done! In 10 minutes or less you can work your way toward a sculpted core that you can feel proud of all year long. The stability will also help you out in all of your favorite winter sports. Did you try the workout? Tag @independentorg on Instagram to let us know.
What is your favorite core crusher that you love to hate?