Improving Your Core Strength

April 27, 2016 Updated: April 27, 2016

Having stronger abdominals equals having a stronger back. When your stomach and back are strong, your entire body has a great foundation to rely on. Generally, keeping your midsection strong means you are far less likely to experience back pain or injury. Try these core-specific exercises to strengthen and tone your entire center.

(Photos by Pills Lim; illustration by Marie He/Epoch Times)
(Photos by Pills Lim; illustration by Marie He/Epoch Times)

1. Double Leg Lift

Lie on your side with your legs gently squeezed together and positioned slightly in front of your body.

Inhale to prepare. Exhale as you float both feet up away from the floor. Inhale to lower.

You don’t need to lift your legs too high. Think about stretching your legs away from your body to create length in your muscles.

“Pulse” as you reach the top. As your legs lower, don’t release them all the way down to the floor.

Repeat this movement 20 times.

2. Side Lift

Start by sitting sideways, resting on your right hand. Have your legs resting on top of each other, knees slightly bent in front of you. Your feet, hips, and hand will be in a straight line.

Inhale to prepare, engaging your abdominal area. Exhale as you lift your body up into a side lift. Focus on lifting your hips up as high as you can and squeezing your inner thighs.

Hold for 20 seconds to 1 minute.

3. Criss Cross

Lie on your back with you legs 90 degrees to your body.

Place hands behind your head and curl up in a crunch position.

Inhale to prepare. Exhale and rotate your right elbow to left knee, extending your right leg.

Repeat the rotation to the opposite side (left elbow to right knee).

Repeat nonstop for 30 seconds.

4. Side Lift with Leg Lift

(Photos by Pills Lim; illustration by Marie He/Epoch Times)

Start in the side-lift position.

Once you are stable in the side-lift pose, lift your top leg to hip height.

Hold it for 5 seconds. Build up to a 20-second hold.

Then lower and lift the top leg 10 times quickly while maintaining the side-lift position. Repeat on the other side.

5. Hover

Rest the weight of your body between your elbows and feet, or knees, if your back is weak.

Tighten your stomach muscles to keep your body and back supported.

Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

6. Hover With Leg Lift

Holding the hover position, lift one leg up and hold for 5 seconds.

Repeat on the other side.

Do 10 on each side.

Repeat the entire sequence of movements two to three times depending on your time limit. Enjoy!

Emma-Kate Stampton is a certified Pilates instructor and a certified personal trainer. With 10 years of industry experience, she is passionate about sharing the gift of health and well-being. Emma-Kate is based in Brisbane, Australia.