The Core Part 2

I hope you are returning for more! If you are new, please visit my Part 1 and check out the exercises I shared first. You wouldn’t jump into the ocean without first learning to swim right? Well, I want you to follow the same principles here. Hopefully after a bit of time strengthening your Local Stabilization System, you are ready to work on your Global Stabilization System.

Global Stabilization System

These muscles connect your pelvis to the spine. There are bunch of muscles that do this job, that quite honestly, I had to look up to figure out where exactly they were located. I was going to spare you the boring details but maybe you want to look up the different muscle groups and expand your expertise. The muscles included in this group are the quadratus lumborum, psoas major, external oblique, parts of the internal oblique, rectus abdominus, gluteus medius and the adductor complex(adductor magnus, adductor longus , adductor brevis, gracilis and pectineus.) I’m going to focus on one specific muscle because I know it is my weak point. That is the Psoas.

What is the Psoas?

The psoas actually has two components, the psoas major (spine to legs) and the psoas minor (spine to pelvis.) I’m going to focus on the major because working on that part will also strengthen the minor. Did you know the psoas is the ONLY muscle that connects the spine to the legs? Never really thought about that before, makes me curious to learn more about different muscles.Think of your psoas as your hip flexor. If you look at the picture below, you’ll see what I mean.

psoas2

I love my Books of Discovery, “Trail Guide to the Body Flashcards Vol. 2.” I never realized how many different muscle groups there are. In school you learn hamstrings, quads, calves and abs, nothing about how many different muscles make up those groups. Our bodies are so complex and fascinating!

 

I’m not for sure, so don’t quote me, but I imagine a lot of women are weak in this area too. While apparently I’ve been “blessed” in the area of my tush and it’s all the rage to have a big bum, I have a tendency to push out my assets. Bigger is better. I’m not alone right? I didn’t realize it until I started focusing on my posture during the Three Week Yoga Retreat. Think about your posture, do you keep your hips tucked in line with your back when you are standing? How about when you are sitting? I used to think that I had really tight hamstrings but it’s actually my hip flexors causing the problems. They aren’t naturally supporting my spine/hip/leg connection because I’ve been too focused on making my booty go pop! I found this video on YouTube that really breaks down how our hip flexors work in a simple way, plus, bonus, he reinforces my dislike of crunches!

Strengthening the Global Stabilization System

I want to share with you one of the most important keys to keeping your core/hip flexors with optimal function. It doesn’t really require “exercise,” it requires you to get up and move. There are all sorts of gadgets now that shows how active you are, your phone, Fitbit, etc. Getting your workout in is great but if all you do the rest of the day is sit on the couch or sit at a desk, you are training those flexors to be tight. Get up and walk around as often as you can. Fill up that water bottle and drink it, that will help you get in to the habit of moving by making you go to the restroom!

The exercises I’m providing below still aren’t sit ups. Can you tell those aren’t my favorite move? I’ve even given the option to do one of the exercises with a buddy because having a partner in crime makes the hard work seem a little more tolerable or maybe it’s that misery loves company? The first 3 exercises focus on the psoas. The following will be different parts of the global stabilization system.

You could try adding this into your already established Local Stabilizer System movements. Remember, if you don’t use it you lose it, you want to continue doing the previous routines. Maybe do two of those and two to four of these a day to start.  Try doing 1 exercise, resting for 30-60 seconds and doing another, repeat each circuit 2-3 times. I recommend you starting small and working your way up to they higher reps. Overexerting yourself can result in injury, even if you feel good, you could be doing more than your body is ready for. Mix and match them how you please, but remember to use your best judgement and don’t over do it.

Disclaimer {{If you have any unique or special medical conditions, such as if you’re pregnant, or if you have a history of knee, ankle, shoulder or spinal (back or neck) problems, you must consult with a competent and reliable physician to understand all risks, contraindications and complications of starting this exercise list, and receive authorization from them before beginning. Failure to do so could result in significant injury to you and others (including, if applicable, your unborn child). By using this program, you assume all dangers, hazards and risks of injury in the use of this program.}}

Psoas

Standing Gate Openers

This move is more of a stretch than anything, you will be strengthening but also working on your range of motion.

  • Stand with your feet about hip width apart and your arms at your sides.
  • Lift your left foot and flex your left knee, drawing it toward your chest. When your thigh is parallel to the floor or higher, move your knee to the right, across the middle of your body, and then to the left, opening your hip as far as possible.
  • Return to the starting position; then repeat with your right leg. Continue alternating sides for your desired number of repetitions.
  • Make this move harder by adding on some ankle weights.

unnamed

Leg Raises & Throws

Raises by yourself

  • Lie on your back with your legs above your waist.
  • Slowly lower your legs as far as you can without your lower back lifting off the floor. Remember to keep your core tight to support your spine.
  • Raise them back up and repeat.

Throws with a partner

(If you are a beginner to exercise or core work, I’d say this is more of an advanced move.)

  •  Lie on your back with your legs above your waist, toes pointed to the ceiling. Have a partner stand above your head and forcefully push your feet forward. Allow your legs to head toward the floor.
  • Slow your legs down and stop them before they touch the floor; then lift them back up so your partner can push them again.
  • Have your partner push harder to make the exercise more challenging.

raises

Hanging Leg Lifts

Equipment needed: Pull-up bar, monkey bars or any bar that will hold your body weight so your feet can’t touch the ground. Sorry I didn’t get a picture for this one, the weather outside is frightful! If you have any questions, just shoot me a message and I will help you as best as I can.

  • Hang from the bar with your hands shoulder-width apart, palms facing forward and feet together.
  • While keeping your knees and hips flexed, lift your knees upward as high as possible, then slowly return to the starting position and repeat.
  • Try not to swing your legs when bringing your knees up.
  • You can wear ankle weights here too.

Quadratus Lumborum & External Oblique

This move actually works more than those two muscles but they are the ones I want you to be focused on.

Side Plank

  •  Lay on the floor on your side. Place your hand on the floor under you and straighten your arm, raising the top half of your body off the ground.
  • You can raise the other arm straight over you or let it sit on your hips.
  •  Just like regular plank you want to keep your legs straight, let the lower half of your body rest on the side of your bottom foot.
  • If you aren’t quite strong enough to hold a side plank, bend the bottom leg and rest it on the floor while maintaining the top leg out straight.
  • Hold this position for as long as you can and then repeat on the other side. Aim for 30 seconds and move your way up to a minute.

side-plank

Internal and External Oblique

Lying Twist

Don’t forget that you want to keep your shoulders on the ground. If you are raising them up in the twist you are taking away from the workout you could be giving your core.

  • Lie on your back with arms outstretched (T position), palms facing down.
  • Raise your knees up to a 90-degree angle. Lower knees down to one side.
  • Slowly rotate your knees to the other side through a count of 10.
  • Hold and squeeze for 2 seconds at the maximum tension point, about 1 inch from the ground or as far as you can go without your shoulders lifting off the ground. (Please note, I need to work on my flexibility here…)
  • Then rotate to the other side through a count of 10.

lying-twist

Adductor Complex

You may need a chair for this move if your balance isn’t strong. Trying to hold my leg up while my son took the picture, yowza!

Swinging Leg Raise

  • Stand next to a chair, hold onto it if needed. Stand on one leg.
  • Keeping your raised leg straight, swing it as far out to the side as possible, and swing it back down, allowing it to cross in front of the standing leg.
  • Repeat this movement 5-10 times, increasing the range of motion as you go.

swinging-leg

Gluteus Medius

Lateral Band Walk

This is one of my favorite moves, it seems so simple but you will be feeling the burn! This was probably my most favorite move in The Master’s Hammer and Chisel. (You can see my awkward attempt at a how to video here.) This requires a resistance band. You can make the intensity harder or easier depending on how tight you hold the band.

  • Stand with your feet approximately 6″ apart. Step on your resistance band and crisscross it over your feet, holding onto the bands either at the handle or choke up on it for more resistance.
  • Take 2 steps to the right making sure after each step your feet stay approximately 6″ apart.
  • Then take 2 steps to the left.
  • Repeat for 30-60 seconds or 15 times on each side per set.

 lateral-band

Ready for more?

I’m ready to get part three done so we can start talking about another target area. Check back in a couple weeks to see even more core moves, but until then can you do me a favor? Send me a note with the area you’d like to learn about next!

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