A strong core means a strong everything else, but effective core training does take focus. So put your mind to the muscle and give today's exercises a try.
With a few principles on core training you can master and progress any core routine. It won't be long before you're making your own variations on classic exercises.
All core training requires three principles: activation, stabilization and progression. Activate the core by drawing the belly button inward. Now use that tight core to stabilize your body during exercise. When it gets easy, progress the exercise by adding weights or doing it more slowly. Making your own variations is where you can get creative.
That's where today's movements fit in. They are progressed forms of basic core exercises. Be sure you have mastered leg lifts before moving onto the wipers. Planks are the base exercise for the slider crunches. See my earlier columns on leg lifts, Feb. 6, and planks, Sept. 9, 2011, at www.lvrj.com/trainer to brush up on the basics.
I picked these exercises because they require a large amount of control. Speed isn't in the equation today. Focus on the different elements of the exercises. Each of them requires core stabilization, a lower body movement and even an upper-body element. If you have been neglecting your upper-body work these may be a little difficult.
Really focus on your muscles and concentrate on which part of your body is doing what. All of the body's muscle groups are involved in today's exercises. The upper body will stabilize and balance while the legs move. The core must stay tight the whole time. Focus on each of these areas as you slowly perform the exercises. The control you teach your body will aid your future workouts.
Some people find it difficult to breathe while the core is contracted. Holding your breath and having a tight core are not the same thing. With a little practice and focus, the two acts can be separated and you will hit new personal records with your core exercises.
Now you have a slew of things to remember, but you can do it. Just control the exercises as well as your breathing and you'll be OK.
The slider crunches require an odd piece of gym equipment. Sliders can be used to make many exercises more difficult. I like to use them to progress core movements.
Sliders are easy to find and easier to make. Most major retailers sell them for less than $10. They also have some to move heavy furniture, those work great, too. Paper plates, magazines, workout towels and Frisbees work just as well. Use the plastic side of the slider for carpet and the cloth side for hard floors.
Chris Huth is a Las Vegas trainer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Consult your physician before beginning any exercise program.