Fit Friday Issue #25
Focus on the CORE issues this Election Day!
(Not sure where to vote on Tuesday, find your local polling site!)
What is my CORE and why is it so important?
The core is the entire "trunk" of your body, and it's comprised of many important muscles (check them out!). Your core is more than just the well known "6-pack" muscles. It's the glue that holds the body together, the sturdy central link in a chain connecting your upper and lower body. Your core is used every moment, while maintaining balance on the train to taking one of our classes. No matter where motion starts, it moves upward and downward connecting the links of the chain.
Therefore, weak or inflexible core muscles can impair how well your arms and legs function, and that saps power from your movement. A strong core enhances balance and stability and prevents falls and injuries during sports or other activities. So all in all, a strong, flexible core is the foundation of your body! You can work your core everyday by demonstrating good posture and breathing habits: sitting up straight and breathing deep into your belly. Keep reading for more core strengthening tips!
E xercises to Strengthen your Core

1. Dead Bugs: Lie on your back with your arms straight up to the ceiling and your knees and hips bent to 90 degrees. Keeping your rib cage down extend your opposite arm and leg out taking a deep breath out. Come back to center and alternate sides. This exercise really works your transverse abdominals - the ones that hug your spine to help with posture.

Image Credit: Muscle & Fitness 

2. Front Plank: A classic in any exercise program! There are many variations suitable for beginners or for pro plankers. Try forearm, one leg, or alternating leg. Looking to add some cardio into the mix? Plank jacks are the answer (see below).

Image Credit: Redefining Strength
3. Side Planks: Don't forget about your obliques! Side planks are another great core exercise that offer many variations to keep you challenged. This one is especially good for practicing your balance.
Image Credit: Care2
4. Hollow Holds: Lie down flat on your back and contract the abs, pulling the belly button towards the floor so that the lower back touches the floor, arms and legs raised above. Slowly raise shoulders and legs from the ground. The lower back must remain in contact with the floor. The goal is to find the lowest position that you can hold the arms and legs, without letting them touch the floor and without breaking lower back contact. On the floor is too easy? Try a hollow hold hang from a bar!

Image Credit: Men's Health
5. Deadlifts: We don't necessarily think of deadlifts as a core exercise, but a strong core is integral to this move! You use your hamstrings, glutes (also a member of the core family!), lats, and core. Keeping the core strong will only help improve your deadlifts, and help with the common back pain issue.
Image Credit: Fitness Flash
6. Squats: Another great "hidden" core exercise. The core engages when you sit back in the squat, and works as you stand. The core will typically be the first muscle to fail when you reach your exhaustion point. As you feel yourself get tired, focus on your breathing which will help your core work for you! Breath in at the top, hold as you lower, exhale as you push through the heels to come to stand.
Image Credit: Experience Life 

7. Side Bends: A more advanced exercise that takes some focus and good posture, but will make your obliques work for you. Stand up straight, feet shoulder width apart, while holding a weight (dumbbells or kettlebells both work) in one hand (palms facing the torso) with the other hand holding your waist. While keeping your back straight and your head up, bend only at the waist toward the weight-bearing side as far as possible. Breathe in as you bend to the side. Then hold for a second and come back up to the starting position as you exhale. Repeat and change sides!
Image Credit: Muscle & Fitness
8. Leg Raises: Start on the floor with the lower back pushing into the floor. Engage your core and lift the legs into the air, while the lower back maintains contact with the floor. Lower the legs down and back up, trying not to touch the floor in between reps.

Image Credit: Health & Gym Guide
9. Russian Twists: Lie on the floor, creating a V shape with your body, knees bent. Twist your body to touch down on one side and then switch, using your core to twist your trunk. Add SandBells or dumbbells for an extra challenge.
Image Credit: Popsugar
10. V-sit Holds: Create a V shape (like a boat pose) with your body, with legs and arms extended. Hold for 30 seconds intervals, resting in between.
Image Credit: Livestrong

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Fit Friday Credits:
Content author: Katelynn Cooper
Editing/Design: Jacqui Zaydel

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