Core Strength
Following exercises emphasize creation of Abdominal Push, engaging your inner abdominal muscles and creating inner pressure in your stomach, other abdominal muscles will work too.
1. One Leg Extension
Lay down on your back, knees bent, feet slightly apart. Put your arms on your stomach. Raise your head slightly off the floor. If you feel discomfort in your neck, prop your head with a pillow. Create abdominal push by either grunting when you exhale, coughing lightly (you do not need a lot of it otherwise it is hard to breathe) or exhaling through the pursed lips. Exhale and inhale couple times into your stomach feeling with your hands that you keep firmness even when you inhale. Lift and straighten one leg up in the air at 45-60 degree angle. Notice how weight of your leg tries to twist your pelvis and abdominal muscles stabilize it.
Really pay attention that your pelvis lay flat on the floor and does not move.
Put first leg down and lift another one. Keep breathing into your stomach. Alternate your legs always waiting for one to come back to the ground before you lift another one. Repeat 10 times on each leg and do 2-3 series resting in between.
2. Bicycle Extension
When you feel that first exercise is easy you can start lifting other leg before first one came to the ground. Make a bicycle moves with your legs.
Keep them quite high about 60-70 degrees, lowering your legs create intense force that will try to destabilize your pelvis and if your abdominal muscles not ready for that your pelvis will rotate forward and create dangerous pressure in your spine.
Only lower your legs when you feel ready for it. The main purpose of this exercise is learning to engage Transversus Abdominis (TA) muscles (inner muscles of your abdomen), keep them engaged and breathe at the same time. It is more important that you can do this exercise longer then stronger. At the beginning do it for 5-6 breaths, then rest then another 5-6 breaths. When you become stronger you can continue doing it until you feel you are getting tired, keep breathing into your stomach evenly and deeply, don't hold your breath.
Variant: Later, you can add degree of difficulty. During bicycling you can lean your legs left, come back to the center and then lean them right, not much 10-20 degrees, your pelvis should lay flat and should not rise on any side. You will start to feel that you have one side weaker than another, work on the weaker side more.
3. Reversed Sit-up
Seat on the floor, legs together, bend your knees and stabilize your feet either under sofa, or ask someone to hold them. Seat close to your legs, back straight and arms folded in front. Create internal abdominal pressure as in previous exercises, exhale and slowly lower your whole body (from the hips) down just a little bit, 5-15 degrees, bring it back on inhale, keep your back straight.
Do not arch your lower back. If you only lower your upper body you have failed to create the abdominal push.
Repeat 10 times and do 2-3 series. As before, lowering your body father is less important than doing more repetitions. Women can do this exercise without stabilizing their feet, because their lower body is heavier then upper body.
These exercises have a positive side effect. You start losing your belly fat (trust me, I did).
Note to women: I do not recommend performing these exercises during your period.
Irina Yastrebova, Riding Instructor and Trainer.
My blog is about teaching, riding and training. I share what is important to me in my work with horses and riders. The writing helps me to think things over and have a better understanding of training ideas and priciples.
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