One of the Best Things to Do For Your Fitness Routine This Year

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New year. New you. Improving your core strength is one of the best things you can do for yourself. There are so many benefits to having a strong core. By having a strong core you can eliminate back pain, prevent future injuries, and improve your sport performance.

Unfortunately, it is very common for people to lack a strong core. But, we can fix that! Follow this simple core progression to help build your core strength.

Initiating Core Activation of Your Transverse Abdominis Muscle

core bracing part 1

The first step is you need to learn to activate your core, specifically the transverse abdominis muscle. The best way to learn how to activate your core is by bracing your core similar to how when you cough or to be straight forward, go number two in the restroom. Lay on your back and place your hands on your core until you feel your core activate. Hold the core brace for 10 seconds, making sure you breathe and not hold your breath. Repeat this hold 10 times.

 It is important to learn how to activate your core to protect your spine when you lift heavy objects.

CORE STABILIZATION PROGRESSION

Starting Position for Levels 1-5

starting position

Lay on your back. Activate your core. Lift your hips, knees, and arms in a 90 degree position and hold. Make sure your low back maintains in contact with the floor and does not lift up.

Level 1: Heel Taps

heel taps

Start with the starting position. Lower one heel down until it touches the ground and return to starting position. Repeat with other leg.

Level 2: Single Leg Heel Slides

heel slides

Start with the starting position. Lower one heel down until it touches the ground. Slide the heel down and back up to the starting position. Repeat with the opposite leg.

Level 3: Hovering Single Leg Heel Slides

hovering heel slides

Start with the starting position. Lower one heel down until it is a few inches off of the ground. Do not let it touch the ground. Slide the heel down and back up to the starting position. Repeat with the opposite leg.

Level 4: Double Leg Heel Slides

double hover

Start with the starting position. Lower both heels down until it touches the ground. Slide both heels down and back up to the starting position.

Level 5: Hovering Double Leg Heel Slides

double heel hover

Start with the starting position. Lower both heels down until it is a few inches off of the ground. Do not let it touch the ground. Slide both heels down and back up to the starting position.

What is Your Core Stability Level?

Start off with Level 1 and try doing 1 set of 10 repetitions. If you are able to maintain your core brace without your low back lifting off of the ground, you can progress to the next level after resting 1 minute. Repeat the above for each level until you find the level that you are unable to maintain your core stability. The level you fail at is your level.

Your Core Program

Once you find your core stabilization level, work your way up to doing 3 sets of 10 repetitions of that level. However, if you are only able to do a few repetitions before your back lifts or your form breaks, do not force yourself to do more. Instead, do 3 sets of the number of repetitions you can do with good form and gradually increase your repetitions every day until you can reach 10 repetitions. You never want to compromise form because you can injure yourself.

Make sure to rest 1 minute between each set. Once you are able to successfully complete 2 days of completing 3 sets of 10 repetitions of a level without your back lifting off the ground or you breaking your form, you can progress to the next level.

You will find after doing six weeks of this simple program, you will see a huge difference in your core strength.  

Image via Juliann Cheryl

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Cindy (Kimmi) Dao is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and founder/writer of Free2Live. She has a passion to empower women to embrace themselves for the way they are and to treasure their individuality. As a way of encouraging women to love themselves, she guides them in how to take care of their lives through health and fitness.

13 COMMENTS
  • Hydro Muscle April 24, 2017

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  • Fix Your Skin January 16, 2017

    Awesome! so simple 🙂 but effective!

  • Edith D. Thurman January 9, 2017

    I’m sorry I have been doing these since I was around 14 years old, I’m now 47. You could not come up with something a tab more original. Yes they work very well, but there are also LOTS of others.

    • Eva January 9, 2017

      Edith, your grammar is severely lacking.

    • Dr. Cindy Kimmi Dao January 9, 2017

      That’s so great you’ve already known about these exercises! 🙂 Unfortunately not many people do and do not have exercise and strengthening foundation like you did. According to research, this core strengthening routine is one of the best ways to improve your transverse abdominis muscle strength and stability. If you’re looking for something more challenging past these basics, you can check out my personal blog. I have a post with core exercises that are more advance; however, I do suggest mastering level 5 of this core progression before moving onwards.

  • Marie Therese January 9, 2017

    I really appreciate how simple and doable these moves are. Thank you for the fitness motivation 🙂

  • Sophie Cottrell January 8, 2017

    So awesome!!!! Love how simple but effective it is!

    • Dr. Cindy Kimmi Dao January 9, 2017

      Yes! Sometimes simple is all you need. Many of my patients have eliminated their back pain from doing this core routine. 🙂 Make sure to share this with your fiends and family! It really works.

  • Rachel @ Better LIVIN January 8, 2017

    Yes! I have sadly neglected my core- time to get it in shape!

  • Thank you for the tutorial. I appreciate that it’s not in video form because I don’t like playing videos (I know, I’m weird like that).

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

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