Ever wonder what it means to be “Hard Core”? Aside from being “Bad to the Bone” being hard core means having intense strength that begins with a strong core. Your core (hips, abdomen, and low-back) is the foundation for training and should be strengthened prior to working on strengthening the rest of your body, multi-plane movements, or adding any weight.
A simple 3-exercise routine that takes less than 10 minutes can help strengthen your core over time to improve balance and stability and prevent injury when moving on to more complex exercises.
Exercise 1: Back Marches (approximately 2 minutes: 1 minute each side)
- Lie flat on your back (supine) with your feet planted about a foot from your butt. Knees shoulder width apart.
- Press the arch of your back into the floor where there is no arch. This immediately engages your core. You may have to tilt your pelvis forward to accomplish this.
- Slowly (at least 3 seconds) bring one knee up to a 90 degree angle flexing the hip (concentric movement).
- Slowly (at least 3 seconds) lower the knee back down to the floor (eccentric movement).
- Repeat this exercise 8 – 12 times on one side.
- Switch sides and repeat
Exercise 2: Low Plank (1 minute)
- Lie face down (pronated) in push-up position
- Lift up into push-up position balancing on your forearms instead of your hands. Elbows directly under your shoulders and forearms facing forward parallel to one another.
- Tilt your pelvis forward (reducing the arch in your lower back). You should feel your abdomen flexing.
- Pull your belly button in toward your spine as hard as you can.
- Hold this isometric movement (not moving) for 1 minute.
Exercise 3: Quadruped Balance (6 minutes)
- Get on your hands and knees (quadruped position)
- Position the hands directly under the shoulders and knees directly under the pelvis.
- Left Arm: Start with the lifting the left arm forward leaving about 1” of space between the floor and your hand. Balance for 1 minute evenly distributing your weight on your other 3 extremities. Keep a flat back by tilting the pelvis forward as you did with the plank.
- Right Leg: Lift the right knee off the floor leaving 1” of space between the floor and your knee. Balance for 1 minute keeping the core engaged by tilting the pelvis forward to keep the back flat and pull the belly button up to the spine.
- Right Arm: Repeat steps for left arm.
- Left Leg: Repeat steps for right leg.
- Both Left Arm & Right Leg: Lift both the left arm and the right knee off the floor 1” above the ground. Focusing on keeping your core engaged, you’re pelvis tilted slightly forward to achieve a flat back, and pull your belly button in towards your spine. Hold this (isometric) pose for 1 minute.
- Both Right Arm & Left Leg: Repeat the steps above for the opposite side.
In total, these 3 exercises that strengthen your core should take you 10 minutes or less to complete. The key to all of these exercises is to keep you back flat which requires you to engage your core muscles, working on targeting your abs, by tilting your the bottom of your pelvis forward and the back of your pelvis back.
You’ll notice yourself flexing your abs following the exercise, practicing tilting that pelvis. This helps reduce the curve in your lower back (lordosis) and can also help to reduce lower back pain.
If you are “Shaky” performing any of these movements, you should get to the point where you can do these without shaking before completing weight bearing movements and multi-planet movements. This will help prevent imbalance and injury.
Enjoying being hard core!