Strength From Your Core

As a marcher or guard participant, you should train the muscles deep within your torso to develop a solid foundation for movement and stability.

The core muscles, which extend from the shoulders to the pelvis, make up the body’s center of power. Dancers and athletes have long appreciated the necessity of a solid core for efficient movement and agility. More recently, fitness professionals have embraced these muscles as a focus for increased overall strength and stability, elevating this type of training to one of the hottest trends in fitness today.

The benefits carry over into daily living outside the gym. Core training emphasizes working the whole body from the inside out, which helps develop the mind-body connection and corrects posture problems that could lead to injury.

To begin strengthening your core muscles, you can try the following basic exercises right at home.

The Bicycle Exercise

1. Lie face up on the floor and lace your fingers behind your head.
2. Bring your knees in toward the chest and lift the shoulder blades off the ground without pulling on the neck.
3. Straighten the left leg out to about a 45-degree angle while simultaneously turning the upper body to the right, bringing the left elbow toward the right knee.
4. Switch sides, bringing the right elbow toward the left knee.
5. Continue alternating sides in a “pedaling” motion.

Superman

1. Lie facedown on the floor with a rolled towel or a small pillow under your hips to support your back.
2. Tighten your core muscles. Raise one arm a few inches off the floor. Hold for three deep breaths and return your arm to the starting position.
3. Repeat with your other arm.
4. Try the exercise lifting first one leg, then the other.

Captain’s Chair

1. Sit in a chair and grip handholds to stabilize your upper body.
2. Press your back against the backrest and contract the abs to raise the legs and lift knees toward your chest. Do not arch the back, and remember to breathe smoothly.
3. Slowly lower back down.

Side Plank

1. Starting on your left side, raise yourself onto your left forearm. Tighten your core muscles to keep your shoulders, hips and knees in alignment.
2. Align your left shoulder directly above your left elbow. Rest your right arm along the side of your body.
3. Hold this position for three deep breaths before relaxing.
4. Repeat exercise on the right side.

Do 12 to 16 reps of the above exercises and you’ll be good to go!

About the Author

Pamela Goldman is the senior vice president of corporate strategy and communications for 02 Max, a fitness club for teens in Santa Monica, Calif. For more information about 02 Max, visit http://www.o2maxfitness.com/.