Everyone wants to know what the BEST exercises are to ‘whittle away the middle’, especially during beach season! The truth is there are countless ways to work your core and gain overall strength in your abdomen and low back. But, performing them safely and effectively is the key to any exercise program. In fact, when you execute a total body strength training program that includes basic exercises such as the squat, a push-up, and a pull-up, you are engaging your core more effectively for overall strength than when you simply focus on a particular “ab exercise”. However, if you want to add additional core exercises to your existing strength program, consider these core moves.

PRONE HOVER:
The “Hover” is an exercise that can be done anywhere and at any time with NO EQUIPMENT. Simply lie facedown on a mat, when you’re ready, position yourself so that your body is supported by your bent elbows and toes. Maintain straight alignment of your body from the top of your head, through your ear, shoulder, hip, knee and ankle ~ now hold for 30-60 seconds!

SIDE HOVER:
The hover can also be performed on your side to target your oblique muscles. Lie on the mat on your side, with your legs atop one another, align your elbow directly under your shoulder and lift your hips to the sky so that you are supported by your feet and elbow ~ now hold for 15-30 seconds!

SIDEBENDS:
Whether you use dumbbell, cable or tubing, this exercise will target the oblique muscles in your torso. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Place the weight in your right hand along the outside of your right leg and place your left hand behind your head while maintaining straight alignment of your spine. Lower the weight down your right leg toward your knee (without bending forward) and return to a standing position. Repeat 10-15 times on each side.

BICYCLE:
No, we are not talking about cardio here! To perform the bicycle exercise for abdominals, lie in a supine position (face up) on a mat. Place hands behind your head (without pulling on your neck). Bend knees so that they are at a 90 degree angle directly above your hips. Begin by alternately touching your right elbow to your left knee in a ‘crunch’ position and repeat on the opposite side until you have completed 10 reps on each side. Remember to exhale as you touch knees to elbows.

V-SIT with a twist:
This exercise can be done with or without additional weight. Begin by sitting on the floor with your knees bent at 90 degrees and your heels pressed in to the mat (so that your body makes the shape of a V). Maintain alignment with your spine so that there is a straight line from the top of your head to your tailbone. Extend you hands out in front of you over your bent knees. Rotate your torso as far as possible to the right while still maintaining spinal alignment, now rotate as far left as possible, then return to the start position. If this seems simple, add a 5lb weight (or a medicine ball) in your hands as you rotate. Remember to keep your chest elevated and your back straight as you rotate through the exercise.

Keep in mind that you can have the best core strengthening program design, but if you follow that program with a diet void of proper nutrients, or worse, filled with highly processed food, you will never see the results of your hard work! So, train hard and keep it clean!

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