Ginger Orange’s Top Tips on Core Strength
Core strength isn’t just about svelte abs and looking good in your bikini. The core muscles are deep supporting muscles in your torso and they are multitasking wonders. They support your spine, keep you balanced, protect against injury and make your movements more efficient. Strengthen your core and your posture will improve, you’ll be nailing not dreading those burpees and yes, you will look great in an itsy bitsy (but that’s because you already do…)
Here’s Ginger Orange’s top tips for a killer strong core:
Full body movements
Say goodbye to endless sit-ups! Instead of just targeting specific muscle groups, for a strong core and functional movement, choose full body exercises:
Planks & Mountain Climbers
Not just a social media phenomenon, planking is also great for working your deep core. Start by holding for 30 seconds and build up to 3 sets of 1 min planks with a 1 min rest between sets. If you’re already bossing it (or feeling like a challenge) move on to Mountain Climbers. Remember to keep your body as still as possible and the movements quick and light. Try 3 sets of 30 seconds of mountain climbers with 30 seconds rest.
What this does: Planks are amazing for posture – they work your chest, shoulders, upper & lower back and abs.
Not just what you call the elevator at work that’s always out of order. Start with a bar with no weight on it or a light kettle bell or medicine ball and slowly increase the weight as you progress. Keep all motions slow and controlled.Aim for 3 sets of 15 with 2 mins rest. Know your techniques and want to make it harder? Turn it into a clean and press and get your whole body involved!
What this does: Dead Lifts are brilliant for a toned and strong back.
Wood chop with a medicine ball
Start without the ball and, as you get stronger, add the med ball and slowly increase the weight of it or the number of reps. Aim for 3 sets of 12 repetitions with a 1 min rest between sets.
What this does: This brilliant twist exercise works multiple muscles in your core as well as your glutes, legs and upper body. It’s particularly good for toning the sides of the waist!
Once you’re rocking your compound, full body exercises and have started to strengthen your core, then you can then move on to targeting specific muscles.
Swiss Ball crunch
Bring your body in a bridge position with your shoulders and upper back resting on a Swiss Ball. Make sure your crunch is slow and controlled with a pause at the top. Yes, your abs should be quivering! Aim for 3 sets of 20 with a 2 min rest between sets
What this does: The primary focus of this exercise is the rectus abdominus aka the 6 pack. The beauty of it is that, in comparison to doing crunches on a mat, the Swiss Ball means that your stabilising core muscles are also recruited to stop you rolling off.
Kettle bell side dips
Start with a 3kg bell and work all the way up to 12kg. Remember, no twisting your torso – it helps if you imagine you’re sliding between two pains of glass. Aim for 3 sets of 20 with 1 min rest between sets.
What this does: This is AMAZING for working the obliques – the corset like muscle that wraps around your waist. If you’ve never done these before you’ll feel it the next day. Spend a few weeks working on this and you’ll notice a smoother, more toned waistline.
Swiss Ball back raises
As with the Swiss Ball crunches, this also engages multiple stabilising muscles to stop you falling off the ball. Remember to extend upwards through the top of your head as you raise up – keeping it kind to your spine. Aim for 3 sets of 12-20 with 1 min rest between sets.
What this does: Sitting at a desk all day for work is rubbish for the lower back. . Muscles weaken, spinal alignment can be affected and eventually there is a risk of injury. This exercise lengthens and strengthens these essential muscles.
Not just for pregnant ladies! The pelvic floor is essential for a strong core. Weakness can affect movement patterns and lead to incontinence later in life so make sure you include it in your core strengthening routine. Bonus being, you can do your exercises while watching tv, doing the dishes, giving a presentation at work… Sit or stand with your feet hip distance apart. Slowly squeeze your pelvic floor muscles without tightening your glutes or abs or holding your breath. Imagine they are like an elevator rising up. Pause briefly at the top and then slowly lower. Aim for 2-3 sets of 15 reps with a 1 min rest between sets.
What this does: The pelvic floor is the base of your core. Working it might not give you a killer 6 pack but it will help with stabilising during movements and prevent against injuries and incontinence.
A note on Ginger Orange’s first love… Yoga is amazing for a strong core! While you practice, you will be recruiting all your core muscles (including your pelvic floor) to stabilise you through postures and flow. It not only strengthens these essential muscles, it also does it while they are stretched and extended. This means long lean lines around your waist.
Ginger Orange’s final top tip on core
Never feel ‘gymtimidated’ when you see an awesome 6 pack – it doesn’t necessarily mean they can pull off a set of burpees. Working your core can tone parts of your torso, but it isn’t really about the aesthetics. You can be any shape and size and have a killer strong core, functional body and good posture. And you already look awesome in a bikini…
Written by Martha