This is the second video in my 5 minute exercise series I’m sharing with you and this one is all about those abs and that core!

Strengthening the core is so much more than getting those beach body abs or a six pack – it’s about making our entire body stronger, increasing the support in our back and spine AND it’s about improving our everyday movements as we go through life. It’s so easy to get caught up in the aesthetics of a strong core and I’m not going to lie – most of the time when we do core work it is because we want those wash board abs. The truth is, without a strong core to support us, our bodies are not strong enough and it increases our chance of injury.

Maybe it’s the fact that I’m a Pilates instructor that makes me so ‘core’ obsessed but I always incorporate some sort of deep core training into every single workout I do and believe that it’s the foundation to an epic fitness routine. That is why it was so important for me to share 5 exercises with you!

These exercises are a mix of traditional Pilates exercises and fitness based exercises to give you a good mix to spice up your own workout routine!

Before you do the exercises it’s really important to set the body up so follow these tips before you get started:

  1. Switch on your internal core muscles before performing any of the exercises (watch the video to find out how ^^^)
  2. When lying on your back, tuck the pelvis SLIGHTY underneath you (you should still have a slight gap under the middle of your back). This will help you achieve neutral spine and make sure that your pelvis is aligned properly.
  3. Elongate the neck, extending the crown of the head behind you.

IMPRINTING: This is SO important when it comes to performing exercises where you have both legs raised. Lying on your back, drop your ribs down towards your hips – keep your pelvis and your hips still and allow the movement to come from the ribs only. Imagine you have a gap between your hips and your ribcage and feel as though you’re trying to close that gap. Imprinting is so important as it switches on your deep core muscles even more and gives added support to the lower back.

There are 5 exercises for this workout and each one should be performed for one minute. The oblique twist will be performed for 30 seconds on one side and then 30 seconds on the other.

The workout:

The hundreds

  • Make sure that you’re imprinting and tucking your ribs down towards your hips.
  • Keep your hands on your pelvis and use your hands as a guide to keep your pelvis neutral throughout the exercise.
  • On the exhale lift one leg into a table top position (the knee should be in line with your hip and the ankle should be in line with your knee).
  • Inhale to hold and on the next exhale lift the other leg to table top.
  • Inhale to hold and exhale as you lower both legs down with control.
  • Think about hinging from the hips rather than just lifting the leg and try to keep a 90 degree bend in the knee throughout.

Dead bugs (one leg stretch)

  • Bring both legs to table top (using the same method as in THE HUNDREDS – See above ^^^).
  • Bring the arms straight up over the chest and hold them there.
  • As you exhale extend one leg at a 45 degree angle and extend the opposite arm overhead.
  • Inhale to bring your leg and arm back to the set up position and then repeat on the other side.
  • Make sure that the ribs don’t flair up, pull the shoulders away from the ears and keep that IMPRINTING!
  • Think about creating lots of length throughout the body right from the toes, all the way through to the fingertips.

Oblique twists

  • Lie on your back with one arm extended out to the side and support your head with the other arm (this will be your working arm).
  • Lift the opposite leg to the working arm into a table top position (again see THE HUNDREDS ^^^) and then extend it out at a 45 degree angle.
  • As you exhale draw the knee of the working leg in towards your body and twist through the spine bringing the elbow of the working arm to meet the knee.
  • Inhale and return your torso to the floor, extending that working leg back to that 45 degree angle.
  • Do 30 seconds on one side and then switch sides for another 30 seconds.
  • Keep the shoulders down and make sure you’re engaging that core. The power for this movement should come from the core and make sure that you DON’T lead with the elbow!

Frogs

  • Place your hands under the small of your back to give a bit more support to that lower back.
  • Bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together, lifting them off the floor. You should already feel this in your lower abdominal muscles!
  • As you exhale, extend both legs at a 45 degree angle squeezing the legs together.
  • Inhale and bend the knees, bringing the soles of the feet back to that starting position.
  • Don’t lose that IMPRINTING and continue to drop your rib cage down towards your hips.
  • Don’t let your shoulders creep up towards your ears an continue to pull the shoulder blades down your back.
  • The lower your legs are towards the ground the harder the exercise will be!

Criss crosses

  • Again, place your hands under the small of your back and draw your shoulders away from your ears.
  • Engage your core muscles and apply that IMPRINTING technique.
  • Lift your legs up to a 45 degree angle in front of your body and extend them – create lots of length right from the hip all the way through to your toes.
  • Exhale and open the legs taking them into a ‘V’ shape.
  • Inhale as you draw the legs back together but this time crossing one ankle over the other.
  • Exhale as you open the legs again back into that ‘V’ shape.
  • This time as you inhale, draw the legs back together but cross the OTHER ankle over the top.
  • Continue with the exercise alternating which ankle crosses over the other.
  • The lower your legs are towards the ground, the harder the exercise will be.
  • Really try to squeeze your inner thighs together as your legs cross over one another and continue to think about creating as much length as possible through the legs.

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