Muscle Building 101; Core

Hey Fit4Reviewers! Welcome to part three of Muscle Building 101!
If you missed out, the first part included an introduction to muscle building as well as upper body exercises, and the second part included lower body exercises.
This part three was inspired by many of my readers after the first two parts of the series were posted. However, the three people who I think originally inspired the idea were my friends Alyssa, Kathleen, and Lindsey. (Three very valued supporters of my blog!)

Today, I’m going to avoid long intros and jump straight into it, because there are a lottt of pictures.
But I would like to point out one thing… I took (most of) these pictures OUTSIDE to emphasize the fact that ab workouts, sans weights, can be done anywhere. And I don’t currently own a yoga mat, so I used a towel just to illustrate the idea of a yoga mat, because you really should be using one for these types of exercises. Safety first! 🙂

(1) ABDOMINAL HOLD
To avoid being repetitive, this exercise can be found in my at-home workouts post.

(2) HOVER CRUNCH
Again, to avoid repetitiveness, this exercise can be found in my at-home workouts post.

(3) CAPTAIN’S CHAIR LEG RAISES
CaptainsChair1 CaptainsChair2
Let me just stress- DOING THESE ON THE STAIRS IS NOT THE PROPER WAY TO EXECUTE THE EXERCISE.
But, I don’t have the captain’s chair machine, so I improvised for the sake of the picture. Please do not perform this exercise on stairs… It’s really no bueno for your back. You need something similar to a captain’s chair for the back support, or at least something that allows for a straight back with your hands at even levels (like two same-height stools).
> The movement: start with your legs straight down, and raise them up using your abs.
– You can either raise your legs straight up, or
– You can lift your legs at a 90 degree angle
– Keep your back straight!
This is what a captain’s chair looks like:
(This one has a pull-up bar as well, which they don’t always have.)
captain's chair

(4) SIDE PLANK
SidePlank1 SidePlank2 SidePlank3
These pictures are in order of increasing difficulty.
> The movement: raise yourself slightly off the ground using your obliques, and hold.
– You want to be sure you keep your body in line and avoid raising your hips too high
– Aim to hold the position for a set amount of time

(5) OBLIQUE CRUNCH
ObliqueLegLift1 ObliqueCrunch2
> The movement: lay flat on your side then raise both your head and your feet simultaneously, repeat. (Turn over and do it on the other side.)
– Your top arm is place in front of you to aid balance
– Your bottom arm should be laying flat below your head, but it is NOT used to help push you up
– For a more efficient movement point your toes

(6) OBLIQUE LEG LIFTS 
ObliqueLegLift1 ObliqueLegLift2
> The movement: lay flat on your side (same as the oblique crunch), and raise your leg as high as you can, repeat. (Turn over and do it on the other side.)
– Again, your upper arm is placed in front of you for balance
– For a more efficient movement point your toes

(7) STATIC LEG LIFTS
StaticLegLift1
> The movement: lay flat on your back with your hands underneath your butt, raise your legs off the ground, and hold.
– The lower your legs are to the ground, the better the ab workout
– You can lift your head off the ground as well to increase the difficulty (if you do so, be sure to keep your chin up rather than letting it dip into your chest)
– To make this more difficult you can either put your hands underneath your head, or have your arms straight out behind your head

(8) DOUBLE CRUNCH 
DoubleCrunch1 DoubleCrunch2 DoubleCrunch3
> The movement: lay flat on your back and begin with your feet off the ground, raise your legs at a 90 degree angle to your chest, then raise your shoulders off the ground in the “crunch” motion, lay your shoulders back down, straighten your legs (but still keep your feet of the ground), and repeat.
– Remember to keep your feet off the ground throughout the entire exercise!
– Keep your chin up when you raise your shoulders to avoid it dipping into your chest
– The higher off the ground you can raise your shoulders, the better the ab workout

(9) WINDSHIELD WIPERS
WindshieldWipers3 WindshieldWipers2 WindshieldWipers1
> The movement: lay flat on your back with your hands under your butt, start with both legs to one side, raise both legs together in a “windshield wiper-esque” motion so that they complete a half circle and end on the opposite side that you started on, and repeat in the other direction. (I generally consider a completion of the motion in both directions as 1 repetition.)
– You can raise your head off the ground as well to increase difficulty (if you do so, be sure to keep your chin up!)
– For a more efficient movement point your toes

(10) CAT SCRATCH CRUNCH
(Name after the cat scratch yoga position)
CatScratchCrunch1 CatScratchCrunch2
> The movement: begin with all fours on the ground, lift your opposite arm/leg pair straight out and parallel to the ground, bring that arm/leg pair in to your core in a “crunch” like motion, extend straight out again, and repeat. (Do the exercise with the other arm/leg pair as well.)
– Balance is key in this one, so keep your core tight
– Avoid doing the repetitions too quickly, and aim to draw out the motions

(11) SIT & STAND
(You may be skeptical, but being able to sit and stand without the aid of your arms really does require a large amount of core strength…)
(1) SitAndStand1
(2) SitAndStand2
(3) SitAndStand3
(4) SitAndStand4
(5) SitAndStand5
(6) SitAndStand6
(7) SitAndStand7
Sorry that’s a lot of pictures…
> The movement: (1) begin standing straight up with your feet shoulder width apart and your hands straight out and parallel to the ground, (2) begin to sit in a squatting motion keeping your arms straight out, (3) complete the sitting motion with your arms still straight out, (4) cross your legs while keeping your arms straight out, (5) begin to stand with your legs still crossed and your arms still straight out, (6) rise up as high as is comfortable with your legs still crossed and your arms still straight out, (7) straighten your legs and end in the same position as you started in; standing straight up, feet shoulder width apart, arms straight out and parallel to the ground, and repeat!
– Be sure to keep your back straight!
– 
Keeping your arms out straight is key to this exercise so as to force yourself to use your abs for the movements

(12) SIDE-TO-SIDE CRUNCH
(This exercise is most often performed holding some amount of weight, but it does not have to be.)
SideToSideCrunch1 SideToSideCrunch2
> The movement: begin with your legs bent, feet off the ground, leaning back but keeping your back straight – start with your arms on one side, then move your arms over to the other side using your core to turn, and repeat.
– Try to keep your feet as stationary as possible throughout the exercise
– The farther back you can lean the better the ab workout (but do NOT compromise good form… keep your back straight!)

(13) BICYCLES – a classic
Bicycle1 Bicycle2
> The movement: start by lifting one leg to your core and bringing the opposite elbow up to touch that knee, then lower that leg while keeping your shoulders up, bring the other leg up to your core and turn so that the opposite elbow now touches that knee, and repeat. It will result in a bicycling motion (-ish), hence the name.
– The higher off the ground you can keep your shoulders, the better the ab workout
– Try to keep your straight leg as close to the ground, but still off the ground, as possible (I did not achieve this in the second picture)

(14) STANDING ONE-SIDED CRUNCH – this exercise is aerobic as well
StandingOneSidedCrunch1 StandingOneSidedCrunch2
> The movement: choose a side to begin on and orient your body in that direction by pointing both toes that way and twisting your core, raise your arms above your head and touch your fingers (you can link them if you want), lift your back foot up on its toes – bring your back leg up to your core while bring your hands down to meet your knee simultaneously, straight the arms and legs back out, and repeat. (Orient your body to the opposite direction and repeat on the other side.)
– This movement is meant to be repeated rapidly so as to give it the aerobic nature
– Because it is meant to be done quickly, it will generally require more repetitions than standard ab exercises
– Be sure both of your toes are pointed in the direction of the side your working so as to avoid knee injury

(15) REVERSE PLANK CRUNCH – this exercise is aerobic as well
ReversePlankCrunch1 ReversePlankCrunch2
> The movement; begin in a plank position with your arms fully extended, jump your feet up to your hands, jump them back into the plank position and repeat.
– Again, this exercise is meant to be completely rapidly to give it the aerobic nature
– Be sure to keep your butt down and in line with the rest of your body when you jump back into the plank position

(16) SPRINT
Wait… what…?
Sprinting, for… your abs… ?
YES! Just try it. You’ll see how sore your core can get after a few good sprints.
In a previous post I explained some of the general merits of sprinting and why everyone should be doing it.
In addition to that, this article does a great job of explaining the merit of the sprint as an abdominal exercise.
– Obviously I don’t have a picture of myself sprinting, sorry guys. It probably would have been a pretty funny snapshot. 😉

Alright! Go get that core sore!
Pura vida and stay strong, Fit4Reviewers.

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Articles used for this blog:

“The Best Ab Exercise Ever That No One Does.” Jade Teta. MetabolicEffect.com. – LINK