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4 moves for stronger core


Published on: October 18, 2020 | Updated on: October 18, 2020


The abdominal wall is made up of multiple layers of muscle. And even though you can’t see or feel them all, they’re really important for keeping your entire body strong and stable. Imagine your spine as a fragile piece of glass. If you want to protect glass, you will wrap it up in layers of paper or plastic. Similarly, the spine is covered with layers of muscles and if these muscles are not strong and active, the spine will suffer. Zaineb Ali, certified Pilates instructor, shares a few workout routines that make you feel the burn.

SIDE BEND: Level — Intermediate
Starting position
Sit sideways with your legs bent to one side, with the top foot placed in front of the bottom foot and top knee facing the ceiling. Place the supporting hand in line with the seated hip a few inches in front of the shoulder.

Inhale. Stabilise your shoulder, pressing your palm to lift your hip up to the ceiling. The top hand should go overhead to create a bow shape, activating your abdominal muscles with a neutral spine in a two-point balance. Exhale and return to starting position.
Repeat 5 times on each side.
Focus on internal and external oblique.

Provides lower back pain relief and trims your love handle
Strengthens abdominal and oblique muscles
Improves lateral flexion of the spine
Develops balance and proper alignment
Increases upper body flexibility
Calories burnt — 30 to 50
Note: Avoid in case of neck tension or stiffness, rotator cuff injury, wrist weakness

SPINE TWIST: Level —Beginners
Starting position
Sit upright, legs extended and ankles apart and flexed, arms out to the side, palms facing down.

Inhale deeply to start and exhale and twist to one side, bending the back elbow on rotation, slightly double pulsing, keeping the ribs aligned over hips, neck in line with spine and shoulders relaxed, stretching taller at every pulse and pulling your navel into the spine while rotating, as if being cinched at waist. Inhale and go back to starting position.
Repeat 5 times on each side
Focuses on oblique muscle

Streamlines waistline
Enhances spinal rotation and flexibility
Stretches the shoulders, hips, and neck
Note: Omit the exercise if you have had a recent back injury. If you have a bad shoulder, reach back only within a pain free range

Don’t let the back shoulder hunch up when turning.
Don’t sink into your back as you twist. Lift tall from your waist.

Rotation wrings out the organs
Stimulates the liver and kidney (Any twist will increase circulation to those internal organs.)
Calories burnt — 20

ROLL UP: Level — Intermediate
Starting position
Lie on your back with legs extended in neutral spine, belly into spine and shoulders relaxed.

Inhale. Stabilise your shoulders as you bring your arms up overhead. When your arms move past 90 degrees, let the chin drop and lift the head and upper spine to curl up. Exhale. Continue in one smooth motion to curl your body, pulling your ribs to hips and belly into spine, rolling each and every vertebra to reach your fingers to your toes. Imagine taking the shape of a wheel. Inhale. Start rolling down from your tailbone, engaging your lower abdominal muscles. Exhale as you unravel your spine back to neutral.
Repeat 10 times in 2 sets
Focuses on sculpting abdominal muscles

Challenges and tightens core abdominal muscles using full range of motion
Strengthens back
Mobilises spine
Improves lower back
Lengthens hamstrings
Improves coordination and movement control

According to researchers at Auburn University in Montgomery, Alabama, the Roll Up is 30 percent more effective than simple crunches.  
Note: Avoid if you have herniated disc.
Calories burnt — 20 to 40

TEASER: Level — Advanced
Starting position
Lie on your back, legs extended, and ankles pointed, arms overhead.

Inhale lift your torso to 45 degree angle with the floor as you bring your arms up and over to reach forward. Simultaneously lift your legs up to 45 degrees, with your thoracic spine lengthened. Exhale. Lower and circle leg to one side. Simultaneously circle arms in the opposite direction. Inhale. Return to centre and repeat on the other side. To finish inhale to arms by ears and exhale to roll back down.

Repeat 5 times in each direction.
Focuses on abdominal muscles including Transverse Abdominus, External and Internal Oblique Back Extensors, Hip Flexors and Adductors.

Strengthens abdominals and back extensors
Stretches the hamstrings and hips
Focuses on and develops balance
Improves spinal articulation and strength
Calories burnt — 80 to 100

Note: Avoid if you have osteoporosis, herniated disc or lower back issues.