The Question: Can you suggest a couple of good home exercises for building stronger core muscles?
The Answer: Two of my favourite core exercises are the plank and the side plank. I'm assuming many readers are familiar with the basic plank exercise (where you raise your body off the floor with your forearms and toes), so I suggest two variations. If you find they are too advanced, simply take out the limb motion and hold the plank position for 10 to 30 seconds.
Front plank with "jumping jack" legs: On an uncarpeted floor, lie on your stomach, legs together, with each of your feet placed on an old rag or towel. Lift your body up so that only your forearms and toes are on the ground. Make sure your lower back is not arching or rounding. Keep your torso still as you slide your toes along the ground so that your legs open, like when doing a jumping jack. Bring your legs back together and repeat 10 times.
Side plank and hip lift: Lie on your side, with your left forearm on the mat, hips off the ground and your feet stacked on top of each other. Your body should make a straight line from your feet to your shoulders. Hold for 10 seconds, then drop your hips down toward the ground. Lift your hips back up to the starting position without letting them rest on the floor. Repeat 10 times, and then switch sides.
Trainer's Tip: To really challenge yourself, combine the two exercises. Perform 10 of the "jumping jack" planks. Without resting, rotate so that you are on your left forearm. Do 10 hip drops and then immediately rotate so you rest on the right forearm. Do 10 hip drops, and then relax.
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