15 minutes to a strong, lean you!
By Lara McGlashan | Images by Dallas Olsen | Fitness Model: Nina Silic | Hair and make-up by Lisa Lee
Your core is actually much more than those abdominal muscles you can see in the mirror.“ The core is made up of every muscle that surrounds the spine,” explains Stuart McGill, author of Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance.
Need a visual? Picture a fishing rod with its butt on the ground, standing upright, says McGill. “If you place a few grams of load on top of the rod, it bends and buckles very quickly,” he says. “But if you put guy wires at different levels on the fishing rod and attach them to the ground, the rod can then bear hundreds of kilos and it won’t buckle.”
Your core muscles are those guy wires, allowing your spine to stay stable and your body to perform at its maximum potential. Whether you’re riding a bike or lifting weights, your core stability is key. The National Strength and Conditioning Association reports that core training can benefit every type of athlete, whether they’re training for an event or not. The reason? Every movement emanates from the core.
BACK TO BASICS
Focusing on the core can improve your productivity and quality of life way beyond the gym walls. Strong midsection muscles allow you to stay stable when doing any kind of daily activity – whether that’s getting in and out of the car, lifting a baby from a crib or picking up groceries – and preventing debilitating back injuries. “If you’re able to keep your form, use your hips and keep your back locked,” says McGill. “It helps prevent a back injury; it bulletproofs you.”
Side plank with twist
TARGET MUSCLES: obliques (internal and external), deltoids, transverse abdominis
Set-up: Lie on the floor on one side with your body in a straight line, feet stacked with insteps together.
Action: With your forearm as support, lift your hip off the floor so that your weight is distributed between your forearm and the side of one foot. Extend your top arm toward the ceiling, then twist your torso toward the floor as you bring your arm down to reach underneath your rib cage. Lift your arm back toward the ceiling and repeat. Complete the set and then switch sides.
TARGET MUSCLES: rectus abdominis, deltoids, erector spinae, transverse abdominis
Set-up: This is an isometric hold that builds core strength and balance. Lie prone on the floor so that you are resting on your elbows and forearms.
Action: Lift your hips up so that your weight is balanced on your forearms and toes. Contract your abs and lower back to keep your body straight as a board. Hold for at least 20 seconds. Aim for about one minute.
For the full article and workout, check out the latest issue of Oxygen in all good newsagents, or you can click here to subscribe.
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