A strong core is more than "six-pack
abs"; it is your body's
power zone-the beginning of all movement. The body's core includes the muscles
of the shoulders, the chest,
the abdomen, the hips,
the pelvis, and the upper
to lower back muscles. A strong core helps your extremities do a better job
while playing sports, or while doing everyday household chores.
increases the amount of force your body produces, improves
balance and body
awareness, and decreases the incidence of overall injury
During workouts train your core before your extremities (arms or legs) because
the core provides the strength that allows your limbs to position themselves
according to the demands of the activity. Core exercises should progress from
simple to complex movements. For example, lying on the floor, you could begin by
crunches, then the
training program could progress to standing, and then to a more
sport-specific activity. Changing from known to unknown surfaces, such as
training on a Swiss Ball (a large ball made of durable vinyl), will help to
improve your workout. Other examples of progression include performing an
activity from sitting to kneeling, kneeling to standing, and two-leg to one-leg
while standing on an even and uneven surface. The progression of exercises
forces you to adapt to a changing environment. The more sport-specific your
training is the more aware you are to all of the demands the sport places on
your body. Your exercise program should include exercises that are up and down,
side to side, and, most importantly, rotational. Many activities in sports are
rotational; therefore, you should train in such a manner. Once a strong base is
developed, you should progress from slow- to fast-moving activities as long as
technique is not jeopardized.
According to the American Council on Exercise, The Bicycle Maneuver is one of
the most effective abdominal strengthening exercises. This exercise strengthens
the rectus abdominus (the long flat muscles along the front and sides of the
How to do the bicycle maneuver exercise
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
Place your fingers on the side of your head just behind your ears.
Push your lower back into the floor flattening the arch and hold.
Bring your knees up to about a 45-degree angle and slowly go through a
bicycle pedal motion. Touch your left elbow to your right knee, then your
right elbow to your left knee in a slow and controlled manner and with full
extension of each leg on every repetition.
Breath evenly throughout the exercise.
Perform 20-30 repetitions (up to three sets).