Getting a flat stomach can feel like an impossible task. What strategies are most effective for seeing results? How much does nutrition cost and how much exercise? And, perhaps most importantly, how can you lead a lifestyle that you enjoy while meeting your fitness goals? We asked Erica goal, a nutrition coach, personal trainer and specialist in deep training, what are the most effective exercises to strengthen your core and get real results.
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Pelvis tilts in hip rolls
These are great for strengthening the deeper layers of our core and pelvic floor (which has tremendous benefits for our entire body). As you do this, make sure you use your breath to activate your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles. Make sure you avoid using your glutes to move your pelvis. If you’re moving into a hip roll these are great as they can help you feel and strengthen your lower abdomen more easily. In the beginning it is common to overload your back, so don’t hesitate to keep your range of motion smaller. Having a smaller range of motion can help you strengthen your core more effectively.
1. Inhale as you arch your lower back
2. Exhale while gently contracting your pelvic floor and lower abs so that your pelvis tilts and your lower back is closer to the mat (but avoid pinching your lower back in the mat).
3. Inhale and return to the start. Repeat 5-10 repetitions
4. Then move on to a hip roll that gently contracts your glutes and hamstrings as you slowly roll up to articulate your spine.
5. Inhale above
6. Exhale as you slowly roll down one vertebra at a time.
7. Breathe in from below
8. Exhale and continue with 5-10 repetitions.
These are great for strengthening the lower abs, which can be very helpful in flattening our tummies. It is also important to make the correct modification for your body so that you can feel your lower abs working. If bending up is challenging your lower abdomen, I recommend keeping your head down.
1. Raise one leg up to 90 degrees
2. Inhale as you extend your leg to straighten it
3. Exhale as you slowly draw in your leg using your lower abs to pull your leg backward
4. Repeat for 10 reps
This is a great exercise for strengthening your entire core! This is a favorite of mine and my students, but make sure you choose the right level for your body. If you experience lower back pain or discomfort when performing these on a mat, you’ll need to change them up and place your forearms on the edge of a trainer or countertop instead. This is a safe way to maximize the effectiveness of plank slides.
1. Inhale as you push your heels back
2. Exhale as you slide forward attacking your quads, lower abs, and middle back
3. Keep moving with your breath to activate and strengthen your abs. Repeat for 10-20 reps.
The most important thing to keep in mind when starting a new exercise program is your personal limits. If you feel any pain in any way while exercising, try changing the movements you are doing so that they best suit your personal abilities. Fitness should be about moving your body in ways that keep you energized and feeling good about yourself.