Advanced Core Stability Exercises
Once you are familiar with the intermediate exercises, and completing them easily, you are ready to move onto more advanced core stability exercises, on your back, in the horse stance, and using body bridges. To begin with, let’s start with the basic position on your back – knees bent, a neutral position, breathing deeply…
From this position, you are going to make a ‘bridge’. To do this, you are going to engage your core muscles, while maintaining your breathing, and lift your hips off the floor until your pelvis is flat in line with your stomach and quads, at an angle of roughly 45 degrees to the floor –remember to keep your feet under your knees, and your shoulders resting on the floor, so that the only movement to get to the correct position is the lifting of your hips. You will need to use your glute muscles to lift your hips without engaging your six-pack, and to begin with, this may feel difficult – but with practise, this will feel more natural as you build strength in this area. As you master the ‘bridge’, you can do reps of the exercise, or try holding the position, as in the body bridges learnt previously. Try holding for 10 seconds to begin with, but remember that you need to keep your hips level, you need to keep relaxed, and you need to keep breathing in a controlled manner.
Now let’s try a progression on the horse stance exercises learnt in the intermediate section. When you are in the neutral position (both hips and shoulders), lift your right arm into the extended position, as described earlier, and when comfortable, try circling your arm for 5 rotations in one direction, and 5 rotations in the opposite direction, before returning to the horse stance with both hands on the floor. The circles need not be large, maybe only 10cm in diameter. Remember that you must maintain your breathing and keep engaging your core muscles, while trying to remain in the neutral position that you start with. Once you have tried your right arm, have a go on the left arm – remembering to start in the neutral position whenever you try the horse stance exercises.
Another progression in the horse stance is the lifting, and circling, of the leg. When you are comfortable in the initial position, try lifting your right leg, and in the extended position, circle your foot for 5 rotations in one direction, and 5 rotations in the other. Again, these rotations need not be large. Make sure you are breathing comfortably, and are relaxed despite the core muscle contractions needed to execute these positions. Now try this exercise with your left leg remember to maintain the neutral position throughout the exercise.
If you are comfortable with the above exercises, then try moving onto these advanced body bridges…
1) Front body bridge lifting either an arm or a leg (as in the horse stance position above). The leg need only be lifted by engaging the glute and lifting the toe off the floor about an inch, while the arm needs to be lifted and extended straight ahead of the shoulder (keeping a straight line through your legs, hips, back, shoulders and arm). Hold each position for 10 seconds, and then re-set your neutral position. Remember that because you are lifting an arm or leg, you will be less stable in your shoulders and hips, and so you must try and remain neutral by controlling your core muscles and preventing movement.
2) Side body bridge lifting your free leg. Lift yourself into the side body bridge position described in the intermediate exercises, with your free arm resting on your side. When you are in your neutral position (making sure that your hips and shoulders have no rotation), lift your free leg until it is parallel with the floor, using your glutes and core muscles. Remember that this movement will cause instability and you must remain relaxed, but contracting your deep muscles, so that this movement doesn’t cause any rotation from your neutral position.
3) Back body bridge lifting a leg. When you are comfortable in the back body bridge position described in the intermediated exercises, try lifting your right leg an inch off the floor and hold this position for 10 seconds, before trying it with your left leg. Your hips will be destabalised, so you must control this through your core muscle contraction. Remember to remain relaxed, and keep breathing deeply and in a controlled manner.
When you are comfortable with all the above positions, and need a final challenge, read on further, and have a go at the *expert* exercises!
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