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The best exercises to tone and strengthen your core

“Your core is much more than just your six-pack,” says Paige Jones, ACSM CES, an exercise physiologist at Piedmont Atlanta Fitness Center.

The core consists of the muscles around the hips, in the back and in the abdominals.

“We want to strengthen all of these muscles together so we can have an effective and strong core overall,” says Jones.

Jones recommends the following three exercises to strengthen and tone the muscles that make up the “trunk” of your body.

The Plank

The plank is an excellent stabilizing exercise.

  • Start on the floor and lift up onto your forearms and toes. With your body in a long, straight line, keep your abdominals tight and contracted, and breathe normally. Be careful not to sag your back.
  • If you need to modify this move, simply drop your knees to the floor.
  • Hold for 30 to 45 seconds two to three times a week.

The Superman

  • Lie on the floor on your stomach. Slowly raise your arms, chest and legs off the ground.
  • Engage through your middle back. Hold and then carefully lower yourself back down to the floor. This counts as one repetition.
  • To modify, alternate raising one leg with the opposite arm, keeping your chest on the floor. You will still engage your middle back, without placing as much strain on your core.  
  • Start with 10 to 15 reps two to three times a week.

The Double Side Leg Lift

  • Lying on your side, cross your arms over your chest and stack legs together, forming a straight line.
  • Keep your feet and legs together as you raise your legs as high as you can off the ground.
  • Complete 10 to 15 reps two to three times per week.

A strong core can prevent and reduce back pain, improve your balance and make your daily activities easier, whether you’re running errands, gardening or doing housework.

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