It’s time to come back to our wonderful and extremely important core muscles. As all of you know, I love the core muscles. After all, it is our core muscles that pull together our entire body and lead to our overall mobility and balance. However, to truly develop our core muscles we must go beyond the basic crunch or sit-up; instead, we must work both the external and internal abdominal muscles, both the strength and stabilizing muscles.
This week’s exercise is going to target the harder-to-reach transversus abdominis (internal support ab muscles) along with our obliques (side abdominal muscles). As we work these muscles we’ll get more definition in our core and improved mobility and support. In addition, this exercise will require you to use legs as you hold them in a ballerina-esque position. So get those ballerina legs ready and we’ll twist, twist, twist to a stronger core.
Start by lying on your back. Lift your legs up into a “V” position, trying to keep them pulling up toward the ceiling, perpendicular to the ground. Extend through your feet, activating all your leg muscles and your lower abdominal support muscles. Remember to pull your belly in toward your spine to support your lower back. (NOTE: If this position hurts your lower back right now, and you are already pulling your belly in to support the spine, try bending the knees as a modification. If this is not enough, bend your knees, placing your feet on the floor.) Now it’s time for the twist part. For this you are going to reach up and touch your right hand to your left foot and then your left hand to your right foot, alternating sides.
If you have not worked you lower abdominals and internal support abdominal muscles very much, this may be a pretty tiring exercise. Adjust your repetitions as necessary to prevent you from getting tired and switching to using your lower back instead of your core (do NOT do this!). Your goal is to do at least 3 sets of 25 repetitions (touching both left and right foot equals 1 repetition).
Stick with this exercise and you’ll notice it becoming easier to hold those legs up and to reach up towards those feet. Plus, you just might find yourself having an easier time moving around, doing all the things you love to do.