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How to Get a Strong Core

Follow these three steps to strengthen your natural base (and flatten your abs).

Feeling a little slack in your mid-section? It could be because you have a weak core. These muscles around your trunk and pelvis are the foundation of almost every movement you do throughout the day (including sitting), and are essential to having solid balance and stability. Not only that, but having a strong core can prevent back pain in both the long and short term and help improve posture. Here are three exercises to get you started.

1. Do some classic ab crunches. Lay down with your back on the ground, plant your feet against the wall and place your hands behind your ears. With your knees and hips at a 90-degree angle, tighten up your abdominal muscles and lift your chest off the ground. Avoid pulling yourself up from your hands—the whole point of the exercise is to have your abs lift you (otherwise it won’t work!).

2. Fly like the wind. Well, sort of (you’ll actually be on the ground the whole time). Start with your stomach and limbs flat on the floor, and then extend your arms and press your hips into the floor. Tighten your lower back as you squeeze for two seconds and then lower to originating position. Practice this 10 times, increasing repetitions as you advance.

3. Get down with the plank position (think something along the lines of the “up” part of a push-up). Once you’re there, position your elbows on the floor so that your hands are holding each other. Then keep your core lifted (and steady) so that only your elbows, the sides of your hands, and your toes/balls of your feet are touching the floor. Hold this position for 10 seconds and then rest. At the beginning you might begin to shake somewhat, but this is a little love note from your body thanking you.

Expert: Robert Green, a celebrity trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise, is the CEO and President of Body Factory LLC.

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-- The Nest Editors

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