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This is an intense core workout. Tweak the timing and reps to your level of fitness, as well as add in rest if you need it. Listen to your body and don’t hurt yourself. You can also make the workout more challenging by shortening the rest and/or doing more than one circuit of all the exercises. Again, let your fitness level be your guide here. For the standard workout, after a proper warm-up, do each exercise for 40 seconds, then rest for 20 seconds. Move on to the next exercise. Once through the entire circuit, rest for 2 minutes and repeat. Adjust the timing and intensity as you need to.
Lie faceup with your hips and knees bent 90 degrees so that your lower legs are parallel to the floor. Place your fingers on the sides of your head. Lift your shoulders off the floor as if doing a crunch. Twist your upper body to the left while bringing up your left knee to touch your right elbow (or wrist for an added challenge). Simultaneously straighten your right leg. Return to the starting position and repeat to the other side.
Position yourself on your hands and knees. Gently arch your lower back—don’t push—then lower your head between your shoulders and raise your upper back toward the ceiling, rounding your spine. That’s one repetition. Move back and forth slowly, without pushing at either end of the movement.
Note: The cat camel may look funny, but slowly flexing and extending your spine in small ranges of motion is a great way to prepare your core for any activity.
Get in pushup position on a bench (or the ground) with your arms straight. This is the starting position. Lift your right foot and raise your knee as close to your chest as you can. Touch the ground with your right foot and then return to the starting position and repeat with your left leg. Go as fast as possible.
Start by performing a side plank with your right side down. Hold for 1 or 2 seconds, then roll your body over onto both hands—into a pushup position—and hold for 1 or 2 seconds. Next, roll all the way up onto your left hand so that you’re performing a side plank facing the opposite direction. Hold for another second or two. That’s one repetition. Make sure to move your whole body as a single unit each time you roll.
Lie face-up on the floor with your palms facing down. While holding your feet together, bend your hips and knees at 90 degrees. Raise your hips off the floor and crunch them inward—your knees should move toward your chest (imagine that you are emptying a bucket of water that’s resting on your pelvis). Your hips and lower back should rise up off the floor. Pause, then slowly lower your legs until your heels nearly touch the floor.
Sit on the floor with your knees bent. Hold a weight plate straight out in front of your chest. Your feet should be flat on the floor. Lean back so your torso is at a 45-degree angle to the floor, and brace your core. Without moving your torso (your belly button should point straight ahead at all times), rotate your arms to the left as far as you can. Pause for 3 seconds. Rotate your arms to the right as far as you can. Pause again, then continue to alternate back and forth. Note: If you don’t have a weight plate, you can substitute a light dumbbell, a basketball, or if you have no object (or need the exercise to be easier), simply clasp your hands in front of you.
From The Athlete’s Book of Home Remedies by Jordan D. Metzl, M.D. with Mmik Zimmerman. Copyright 2012 By Rodale Inc. Published by arrangement with Rodale, Inc., Emmaus, Pa. 18098