To have flat abs, you need to train all the layers of abdominal muscles, including the core stabilisers. These muscles work together to align the pelvis and stabilise the body. They are underneath the “6-pack” and when they are strong, the core muscles pull the abdominal area in flat. To get good results from core exercises, you need to understand how the core muscles act as stabilisers. Core exercises for beginners therefore need to start with the basics of finding the “neutral” pelvis position and keeping the pelvis stable.
The pelvis needs to be able to tilt forwards and backwards as we move, but bad postural habits can lead to it being in a forward or backward position at rest, instead of in the neutral position. In women, the forward position is very common, especially after pregnancy. If you do core exercises with a tilted pelvis, they won’t work the muscles they’re supposed to work.
Before doing these exercises, please read the general exercise safety guidelines here.
To find neutral pelvis
Step 1: Lie on the floor with the knees bent and feet flat. Press your lower back gently into the floor – this is a backward tilting position.
Step 2: Now carefully arch the back a little – this is a forward tilting position.
Step 3: Halfway between these two is the neutral position.
Leg lowers 10 each leg
In this exercise, the core muscles must hold on to the neutral position, while you lower one leg at a time to the floor.
Find neutral as described above, then take both feet of the floor and hold the legs as shown:
Holding on to the neutral pelvis position, lower one leg to the floor. It’s important not to let the pelvis move – the core muscles will have to work to hold on to neutral. Bring the leg back up to the starting position and repeat with the other leg.
“Table top” arm and leg lifts 5 x 3 seconds
The core muscles work in this one by keeping the back flat and keeping the whole body stable. If they aren’t engaged, your back will dip instead of being flat and you’ll wobble. The starting position is all-4 kneeling. Make sure your back isn’t arching – use a mirror or ask someone to check.
Keeping the abdominal muscles pulled in, lift opposite arm and leg until they are parallel with the floor. Keep the back flat and the body steady. Hold for 3 seconds. Lower and repeat on the other side.
Abdominal hollowing 5 x 5 second holds
Abdominal hollowing is just sucking the core muscles in. You can do it in any position – standing, sitting, lying, kneeling .. but doing it in the all-4s kneeling position is good because you are working directly against gravity.
Get into the all 4s position as above, then suck your tummy in as much as you can without your back moving. Hold for 5 seconds, release and repeat.
Remember with core training, it’s important to keep making sure the abs are engaged and the spine is in the neutral position. If you don’t, the exercises won’t work and you could hurt your lower back.
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Core exercises for beginners printables
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