Core exercises like the ones here firm the front, sides and back of your torso (not just your abs), making control-tops obsolete. But belly flattening is just one benefit of these workout routines. Your core muscles protect your spine, and the better they are at doing it, the comfier your body gets with coordinating movements (like hitting a tennis ball, rowing a kayak, and even running). In fact, a strong core can improve your endurance, make you a stronger athlete, and prevent injuries. Follow these fitness tips and your body will function as fabulously as it looks.
Your core includes muscles from your upper back to your pelvis, but the primary spine stabilizers are your rectus abdominis, external and internal obliques, transverse abdominis (together called your “abs”), and rector spinae. Your abs flex your spine, rotate your body, and pull in your belly. Your erector spinae, along your vertebrae extends the spine and helps support your torso.
You’ll need a 5- to 7-pound dumbbell, a 6- to 10-pound kettleball, and a Kinesis One (or cable) machine. At home use a dumbbell and two handled resistance tubes (find gear at spri.com). Twice a week, do 2 sets of each move in order.
“Nearly every woman will suffer from back pain, but a strong core can prevent it,” says Dorcey Porter, a trainer at Equinox Fitness in Hawthorne, California, who designed this plan. “To get the most benefit from these exercises, focus on your posture during every rep.”
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