1. Plank Pose – Plank is a tried and true method for scoring major stability in your center. Come onto hands and knees like you’re in an easy pushup position. Lengthen your legs behind you so they’re straight. Push down through spread palms so your shoulder blades are very active. The goal is to keep your chest pushing up towards the ceiling. Your hips should be close to level with your shoulders. Press back through your heels to lengthen the muscles in your legs. Keep your neck long by looking just a few inches beyond your fingertips. Do not let your hips sag. When you start to shake you’re doing it right. Keep your hips lifted and hold for 10 long breaths.
2. Forearm Plank Pose – Just like Plank, Forearm Plank will get you firing quickly, but this time you’ll have the added benefit of bringing your shoulders and obliques into the equation. Bring your forearms to the ground. You can either have them parallel to each other or with your hands clasped together. Press into your forearms and lift your hips while pushing back through your heels. Your hips want to sag here, but the challenge is to keep your torso corseted and your hips lifted to shoulder height. Iron out your neck by looking down near your hands. Breathe into the space in between your shoulder blades. Smile. Hold for 10 breaths.
3. Side Plank Pose – From your plank pose shift your weight onto your right hand and right leg. You’ll want your right arm to be in socket here, so take caution to put your arm directly under your shoulder. Stack your left leg on top of your right leg. Push deeply into your spread right palm and actively lift your hips. This is getting into your transverse abs which wrap around your entire center. You’ll feel it in your low back as well. For extra challenge lift your left leg off of your right leg. Your left hip will be singing, but know that you’re getting into tiny muscles that add power on the pedals. Hold for 10 deep breaths and switch sides.
4. Forearm Side Plank Pose – For a surprisingly challenging variation on side plank, try using the forearm variation. Place your right forearm parallel to the top of your mat (or pretend like you’re on a mat and make your forearm perpendicular to your body). Again you’ll want your shoulder to be in joint as much as possible. Flip onto your right side as you did in regular plank. Focus on keeping your hips lifted again. If you’re feeling feisty lift your left leg up and hold for a few breaths. Repeat on the second side.
Try to repeat these core exercise a few times throughout the week. Add in variations as you gain strength. These could be lifting a leg, raising and lowering your hips toward the ground (like sideways dips), or holding with just your fingertips.
Story Photos: Paris Gore
Cover photo: Paul Kelly