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Core Abdominal Exercises

The main abdominal muscles are the Rectus Abdmoninus, External/Internal Obliques and Transverse Abdominus. All of these muscles contribute to stabilizing the lumbar spine and keeping our posture upright; however, the deeper, core abdominals are key to improving posture. Once we strengthen and start using these core abdominal muscles correctly, our back muscles do not have to strain to hold us upright any more. Strengthening the Transverse is particularly beneficial because this muscle acts like a girdle around your waist. The following exercise engages and strengthens the core abdominals by asking you to pull your belly button towards your lumbar spine while you use your hip flexors to lift your legs. We know you want those six pack abs to show off on the beach, but doing regular sits ups won’t give you the postural benefit of these exercises.

Phase 1

  1. Lie with the back flat on the floor, with the knees bent to 90 degrees and feet planted on the ground.
  2. Place one hand under the lower back with palm facing down.
  3. Contract the core abdominal muscles by drawing the Umbilicus (belly button), towards the ground so you feel the lower back push the hand onto the floor.
  4. For 10 seconds hold this position firm.
  5. Keeping the core contracted strongly, slowly raise the left knee up towards the chest then slowly back down again, back to the 90 degree position.  Repeat 10 times.
  6. Relax the abdomen and take 5 deep breaths allowing the abdomen to rise and fall
  7. Change legs and repeat steps 1-6.
  8. As a progression you can repeat steps 1-6 except alternate between lifting the left and right knee to the chest, making sure you keep the abdominal core tight.

Phase 2

  1. Repeat steps 1 -4 in phase 1.
  2. If sitting on a yoga mat move to the edge so that your feet are able to slide up and down on the floor.
  3. Keeping the umbilicus draw in towards your lower back, feeling the pressure on the hand, slowly straighten the left leg, sliding the heel along the floor until your leg is flat.
  4. Then slowly slide your left leg up again to the 90 degree bent position, finishing with the sole of your left foot flat on the floor (remember to keep your lower back flat).
  5. Repeat 10 times.
  6. Rest by taking 5 deep breaths allowing the abdomen to rise and fall.
  7. Repeat steps 1-6with the other leg.
  8. As a progression, alternate sliding the two legs up and down, keeping the abdomen drawn in.

Phase 3

  1. Repeat steps 1 -4 in phase 1.
  2. Straighten the left leg so that it is lying flat on the floor.
  3. Now raise the left leg keeping it straight or slightly bent while keeping the right leg bent to 90 degrees and the lower back flat on the floor (very important!).
  4. Lower the left leg, slowly back to the floor.
  5. Repeat 10 times.
  6. Change legs and repeat.
  7. As a progression have both legs flat on the floor and alternate raising each leg 10 times.