A strong midsection gives you the support you need to stand taller, look slimmer and feel more confident.
The secret to looking slimmer without a crash diet: Stronger abdominal and back muscles, which help you avoid slumping down with poor posture like so many of us do. Even better, the benefits of a stronger midsection go way beyond appearances. A stronger core improves stability, prevents back pain, and makes it easier to move your body as one unit.
All you need for this quick workout is some open space, a mat and a soft play ball.
1. Russian Twist with Ball
Sit in the middle of your mat (lengthwise) and place the soft play ball between the mat and your lower back. Keep your heels to the floor with knees bent. Then, lean back slowly until you feel the ball squeeze against the floor and your core muscles engage. Next, slowly twist your upper body to the right, then twist back to center. Then, twist to the left and come back to center. Repeat this twist 5-8 times on each side.
2. Core Isolation
Remain in the same position on your mat with the ball placed between your lower back and the mat. Keep your heels to the floor with knees bent. Gently lean back, remember to maintain the right range of motion for your body, and press the ball closer to the mat. Hold in this position for 3-5 seconds, then use your core muscles to pull yourself back up to a comfortable seated position. Repeat this core isolation move 5-8 times.
3. Hip Bridge
Lay your back flat on the mat with your knees bent, then place the soft play ball under the heels of your feet. Next, press your heels down on the ball as you push your hips up toward the ceiling. Then, gently lower your hips down and relax your heels from pressing on the ball. Repeat this move 8-10 times.
4. Ball Crunch
Lay your back flat on the mat with your knees bent and feet planted on the mat. Hold your soft play ball in both hands above your chest. Then, squeeze your core muscles and pull your chest up toward the ceiling, then touch the soft play ball to your knees, or near your knees. It should feel like performing a standard crunch. Perform 8-10 repetitions.
5. Oblique Crunch
Lay flat on the mat with your knees bent and feet planted on the mat. Then, cross your left ankle over your right knee and hold. Next, take the soft play ball in your right hand and hold it between your right shoulder and neck. Then, squeeze your core muscles and pull your shoulders and chest up and twist to reach your right elbow toward your left knee. Repeat 8-10 oblique crunches, then switch sides and perform another set of repetitions on the opposite side.
6. Back Extension
Lay flat on your mat with your belly facing the floor and your arms extended toward the top of your mat. Place the soft ball under your hands and clasp your hands together so that the ball is touching the outside of your wrists and palms. Start with your neck relaxed and forehead touching the mat. Then, engage your core muscles to pull your head and shoulders up off the ground. Use the sides of your palms to slowly roll the ball a few inches toward you to support your back and core. Next, release down and roll the ball away a few inches again. Repeat 5-8 repetitions.
Incorporate these moves into your regular exercise routine to start toning and strengthening your core in just a few minutes a day.
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