Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Fit to the Core - Part 1


Core Exercises for People who Hate Crunches and Sit-ups.

I hate doing sit-ups. HATE. In fact, there's probably no exercise I hate more. And yet, as a mom, runner, desk jockey, home cook, laundry slave, and (former) dancer, I can't think of an area on the body where toughness is more important, than the "core." A strong core is important for balance, posture, over-all health and general bodacity. (It's Science; don't question it.)

I (like over 80% of Americans) suffer from chronic lower back pain. I know there are a lot of contributing factors to it. Everything from slouching in my desk chair to schlepping piles of laundry up and down the stairs can hurt my back. But this pain ALWAYS subsides (sometimes even completely) during periods where I am making sure to include a lot of core work in my daily exercise regimen.

I want to share this with you because despite my brilliance in most areas of life, this was NEWS to me. Months ago, when nightly, I'd lie in my bed, trying to relax the tense and aching muscles in my lower back, the last "commonsense" solution that would have ever popped into my head would have been a daily dose of intense core workouts. If anything, I would have expected these exercises to cause me even more pain.

Not so.

Not only do I go most days without feeling that achy tightness creep in, running is easier, pressing weight is easier, and I'm starting to look a little better in a bathing suit. If you have always avoided core workouts, because you thought exercising your core was all about the torture of a million crunches, then you're doing your body a disservice. Take a look at the following exercise and begin your awesome (and fun!) journey to a stronger core.

Dolphin-Plank Pushups
This push-up combines the asanas of Dolphin and Plank. It works the lower and upper abs, glutes, and the entire back, and to a lesser degree the biceps, triceps, and deltoid area. A real total core exercise. And one of my very favorites.

Begin in Dolphin Pose:

Count to three and then slowly, bending your elbows but keeping your forearms on the floor, lower your rear-end, abdomen and chest into a (modified) Dolphin-Plank Pose:

If you're doing it correctly, your elbows will be a little closer to your feet than the woman's in the image above, and your face will be over or in front of the hands a bit more. That's why I'm calling it a modified dolphin-plank.

Keep it slow and controlled. Try it ten times, with as full a range of motion as you are comfortable. When it starts getting easy for you, do more, do them faster, but keep the control. Engage your core.

Please post your experiences with this exercise, any tips or tricks you've figured out, progress you've made, or modifications that work for you in the comments below.

Happy Exercising!


  1. i was just telling my mom this afternoon how much i hate crunches, (and that they hurt ever since my surgery) and that i wanted to find another way to work my abs.

    and then i read this!

    very cool, now if i can just get off my butt and try them...