To add to my list of favorite exercises I will go ahead and name my Top 5 favorite exercise for the “Core” All the exercise may incorporate the entire body which is fine because you can’t move your body without the core being involved one way or another. Most of these exercises I still use because they will help keep me strong and flexible for the rest of time.
5). Single leg sit-up
The single leg sit-up is a regression to the very popular Turkish get-up This is a great exercise that can hit your Core and both sides can be worked evenly. It is an exercise that can easily be loaded and when loaded help turn the exercise into a great shoulder stability exercise as well. It is a fantastic exercise that needs little set up just get in the traditional Sit up position on the floor. Extend one leg straight and perform sit ups. Did I mention that the 1 leg sit-up is also safer on your lower back? With one leg extended it causes people not to round the lower back which take a lot of shearing force off of the disk which protects your spine.
Suitcase carries is the Farmer walks city slicker cousin. Instead of walking with two weights just grab one weight. Now the goal is to walk in a straight line( at least 20 yards) and keep your shoulder square and try not to lean. Keeping yourself up right will be more than enough to wake up those obliques. Not to mention there is a dynamic implementation when you walk. If you ever wanted to learn how to brace your core try a farmer walk. It is an exercise that teaches you how to perform it correctly while performing the exercise.
3). Turkish Get-up
I mention the single leg sit-up as the regression for the Turkish get-up. The Turkish get-up is not an exercise your want to play around with. This is exercise should honestly come with an instruction manual. This exercise will remind you how awful it can be to get up off the ground. But doing this exercise will show you your weaknesses and help strengthen them at the same time. If you wrestle, judo, ju-jitsu, or any other martial arts this is the exercise for you. I think all contact sports need to incorporate a Turkish get-up. Fantastic exercise give a shot.
2). Med ball Tosses( all directions)
Get exercise for thrower, golfers, fighters, and just about all sports. This exercise can also be used to work on power in athletes. There are so many variations but it teaches you how to generate power from your hips up through the mid section and out through your arms. It keeps emphasizing that kinetic chain. How to transfer energy created from your legs and move it through your abdomen to your arms. If your core is weak you will lose a lot of power throughout the movement. I prefer if you can throw the ball against. So I can throw the ball without worrying about injuring another person.
1). Planks (Front, Side, and all other variations)
Planks are a simple exercise to train your abdominal, hips, and shoulders. Just get in a push up position on your elbows. Keep your body in a straight line from head to toe. Hold that position like your life depends on it. Very good exercise to work your core correctly which to make a stable platform in which you can move your limbs from. Very simple with lots of variations. This is a must include exercise. If you’re able to hold for at least a minute you are doing big things. If you can’t then… get to work.
Now this is a little issue that has been on my mind for about the last week or so. The forward lunge vs the Reverse lunge. Two exercises that look very similar on the surface but target different muscles in the legs. Now if you were to tell someone they will look at you like you’re crazy. IT is the same motion just one stepping forward the other stepping backwards. But lets look at in-depth
The Forward lunge from a standing position you want to step forward which will cause center of gravity to go forward as well when your front foot hits the ground your glutes, Hamstring, and quadriceps will contract eccentrically to slow your momentum hip stabilizers will fire to keep the knee in line. As you descend down you will get more glutes and hamstring activation especially if you are pushing through your arch to heel on your front foot. Towards the bottom end of the movement you will get more glutes and hamstring activation. On the concentric portion of the movement most of the work is through quadriceps. The last bit of the movement is knee extension. Think about when you’re doing dynamic lunges(alternating lunges) you have to kick a little with your front leg to get you back to the standing position. What major muscles are responsible for knee extension? The answer is quadriceps. Many people usually don’t go the full range of motion in the Lunge and that is why they really feel the burn in the quads because they stay in the range were quad activation in greater. Even in the picture I believe the woman can go even further down and have her back knee touch the ground. Front Lunges will target your quads better than Reverse lunges.
Lets take a look at the Reverse Lunge it start the same way as the Front long instead of stepping forward you take a step backwards. First thing you notice is that you body starts to move in reverse. Second thing you notice is that it is a slightly slower movement. Let think about it for a second with the forward lunge you are shifting the weight from the back leg to the front. In the reverse lunge the weight doesn’t shift in the beginning instead the support leg( the leg that did not step back) has to control your body weight and lower you through the motion. As you lower yourself though the motion your glutes and hamstrings are engage immediately to help lower yourself down. You lower until your knee touches the ground then you stand back up. The up motion is completely different from the front lunge The front lunge ended up being a pushing motion. The reverse lunge on the way back up is a pulling motion through the hip. You are pulling yourself forward, it basically the same motion when your running and walk. Hip extension is controlled by the glutes and Hamstrings. Some people will argue that you push-off the back the back leg to get forward. Yes there is some help with a push to help get your momentum forward but I will argue that your hips are more involved in a reverse lunge than the front lunge. Why do you think women who want to tone they hips and buttocks do reverse lunges over front lunges. IF you still don’t believe me grab some dumbbells and do a couple of sets of reverse lunges and tell me what hurts 2 days later. I bet it will be your glutes.
If you’re trying to make a decision between forward and reverse lunges it will depend on what muscles(movements) you’re trying to target. If you’re going for a knee dominate quadriceps movement go with the Forward lunge. If you are looking more Posterior chain movement then I suggest the Reverse lunge it will hit your hamstring and glutes more.