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Core and Flexibility Workout

This workout focuses on strengthening the core with challenging exercises that target the rectus abdominis, obliques, transverse abdominis and the lower back.  The flexibility exercises stretch the entire body with a focus on the back and hips.  Do this workout after your regular cardio workout or on it's own for a challenging, yet relaxing, workout.

See your doctor before trying this workout if you have any injuries, illnesses or other conditions and modify any exercise that causes pain or discomfort.

Equipment Needed
An exercise ball, medicine ball, a resistance band and a mat.

How To

  • Warm up with light cardio or do this workout after your regular cardio workout
  • Complete each exercise as shown, modifying when necessary
  • Do this workout 2-3 times a week with a day of rest in between
Bird Dog
bird dog ab exercise (67628 bytes)
Begin on hands and knees.  Engage the abs and lift the right arm and left leg until level with the body, holding your balance and keeping torso tight. Lower back down and repeat with the left arm and right leg. Repeat for 2 sets of 12 reps, alternating sides (one rep includes both the right and left sides).
Rotations on the Ball
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Lie with ball under shoulders, neck and head, hips lifted in a bridge position, and take the arms straight up over the chest holding a light weight or medicine ball. Tighten your abs and rotate your torso to the left as far as you can, allowing the hips and legs to move naturally with the motion. Rotate back up and then go to the other side for 2 sets of 12 reps on each side (one rep includes both the right and left sides).
Side Bridge
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Lie on your side balanced on the forearm, feet and hips stacked on top of one another. Holding the torso steady, slowly contract your abs and lift the hips off the floor (don't sink into shoulder). Lower and repeat.  To modify, keep the knees bent or take the feet wider rather than stacked.  Repeat for 2 sets of 10 reps on each side.
Seated Torso Twist
hseatedtorsotwist1.jpg (15076 bytes) hseatedtorsotwist2.jpg (14574 bytes)

Sit holding a medicine ball with knees bent and lean back slightly, torso straight.  Rotate to the right, squeezing the abs and touch the medicine ball to the floor.  Come back to center and rotate to the left.  Repeat, alternating sides for 2 sets of 10 reps (one rep is to the right and left).  

Place forearms on the floor and press up into a flat-back position on the toes, keeping the hips down so that the body is in a straight line from head to heels.  Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, lower and repeat.  To modify take one or both knees to the floor.

Attach one end of a resistance band to something sturdy near the floor, grasp band in both hands and begin in a lunge position, facing the band. Keeping the arms straight, rotate the body to the opposite side and sweep the arms up on a diagonal, rotating the hips and knees as well, contracting the obliques. Repeat for 2 sets of 12 reps on each side.
 Ab Roll
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Kneel in front of the ball and place your hands on the ball parallel to one another. Roll the ball out keeping the hips straight and back straight.  Roll out until you feel the abs engage (don't arch or strain the back) and push into the ball to roll back in. Repeat for 2 sets of 10 reps. 
Hamstring Stretch

From a standing position, take the left foot in front of you, foot flexed and tip from the hips, lowering the torso until you feel a stretch in the left hamstring.  Keep the back flat and hold for 15-30 seconds, repeating on the right leg.
Quad Stretch
Hold onto a wall for balance if needed and bend the left knee, taking the heel towards the glutes.  Grab onto the foot with your left hand, keeping the knee pointing toward the floor and feel a stretch in the front of the leg.  Hold for 15to 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Shoulder Stretch
Take right arm straight across your chest and curl the left hand around your elbow, gently pulling on the right arm to deepen the stretch in the shoulder. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and switch sides.
Hip Pretzel Stretch

Cross left foot over right knee. Clasp hands behind right thigh and gently pull the leg in towards you, keeping upper body relaxed. Hold for 15-30 seconds and switch sides.
Inner Thigh Stretch
Sit on floor with feet pressed together. Keeping abs in, lean forward until you feel a gentle stretch in your inner thighs.  Hold for 15 to 30 seconds.
Pigeon Stretch
Begin on the hands and knees and bring the left knee in, resting it on the floor between your hands (you should be on the outside of the knee). Straighten the right leg out behind you and, if you can, bend forward and rest the forearms on the floor.
Knee Drops
Bring the knees up and bend them to 90 degrees, shins parallel to the floor and arms out to the sides. Contract the abs and rotate the torso to lower the legs to the right, bringing them down to the floor. Keep the left shoulder flat on the floor and release any tension in your waist and back. Hold the stretch for about 5 breaths, bring the knees back to center and repeat on the other side.
Spinal Twist
Lying on the floor, place right foot on the left knee. Using your left hand, gently pull your right knee towards the floor, twisting your spine and keeping left arm straight out, hips and shoulders on the floor. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and switch sides.
Side Child's Pose

Begin on your hands and knees and sit back onto the heels, walking the hands forward and stretching the arms out. You can take the knees wide if that's more comfortable. Relax your forehead on the floor and walk the hands a few inches to the right, feeling a stretch down the left side. Hold for a few breaths before walking the hands to the right.
Related Video
Strengthen Abs and Core Muscles With Free Weights
No-Crunch Core and Ab Strengthening
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