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Say Goodbye to sit-ups!!!!! And Try these Functional Core exercises

In the world of health and wellness there is one muscle group that’s been in the spotlight for a long time… the core. Whether it be someone looking to increase their functional strength, get six pack abs, or to reduce the risk of injury, proper core training is key. Safe to say it is a focus point of almost every style of exercise for veterans and newcomers alike. With that being said there isn’t much material educating people on proper core strength. Most programs will have an abundance of crunches with lots of spinal flexion or extension. When looking at exercise selection it is imperative that we use a risk vs reward mentality. A lot of traditional core exercises might target the muscles in the stomach-but at the cost of spinal compression. The primary goal of the core is to prevent lumbar spine movement, not to encourage it. Keeping this in mind here is a quick way to screen popular core workouts for safety. Ask yourself- does workout involve moving my back or spine in order to engage my core? Or is it preventing movement through out my spine and engaging my core? Exercises we can deem as good and safe long term fall into the second category.

Below are two examples of safe core exercises I use on my clients that are safe for all fitness levels!

1.The Dead Bug

The Dead bug is a staple and arguably the best core exercise there is. Every client I meet (excluding people with a specific restriction) will be starting off with dead bugs. The dead bug is very safe and very effective. You’ll want to lay down on the ground with your arms straight up in the air and legs off the ground at a 90 degree angle. then the goal is to not allow the lower back to come off the ground and resist the urge for it to do so for as long as you can. After that first motion is mastered, the dead bug offers a lot of progressions you can use to make it much more challenging.

2. Banded anti-rotation

Anti rotation one of my favorite ways to target the obliques and the core as a whole. the exercise is pretty straight forward. You’ll start on the ground in a tall kneeling position. Then grab on to the band with both hands and stick your arms straight out. The trainer will stand to one side of the client and apply tension to the band while the client fights to keep their posture straight and resist the urge to rotate to the side the trainer is pulling from. For those who don’t have a trainer- you can secure your band to a solid object and walk yourself to a distance where the resistance is challenging enough. This is a another staple exercise because of its risk vs reward ratio and how bands varying resistance make it something that can be good for people of all levels. This is also a great beginner step to the pallof press, one of the functional training world’s favorite movements.


Both of these exercises will help you get a stronger core and help you achieve all of your core goals. Everything is do at your own risk, know your limitations. Proper core strength takes time to develop and cannot be gained over night. I hope this helps everyone achieve their goals and make sure to comment on the article and let me know what you think I love the feedback.

Brendan Kelley

Brendan.kelley.pt@gmail.com



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