Bathing suit season is almost here, but it is not too late to strengthen your core. Not only do strong abdominal muscles look great, they can also reduce lower back pain. Sharon Eaton, a fitness instructor at Piedmont Atlanta Fitness Center, demonstrates three simple moves that, coupled with a healthy diet and cardiovascular exercise, will yield tummy-tightening results. You will need an exercise mat for these moves.
Lying on the floor with your back flat and knees bent, place your arms behind your head. Cross your right ankle over your left knee, forming a number four with your legs. Extend your right arm directly to the side, keeping the left hand behind your head. Exhale and bring your left elbow to your right knee. Inhale as you lower down; repeat 10 to 15 times. Switch sides, crossing your left ankle over your right knee. Complete two sets of 10 to 15 reps on each side.
Raise both feet off the floor, bend your knees at a 90 degree angle and cradle your head in your hands. Bring your left elbow to your bent right knee, extending your left leg straight in front of you. Repeat on the other side, bringing your right elbow to your bent left knee. Complete two sets of 10 to 15 reps.
Lying on your mat, press your lower back flat against the floor and bend your knees. Extend both arms by your sides, reaching toward your feet. Lift your shoulders a few inches off the floor, keeping the arms long and shoulders away from the ears.
Your neck should remain neutral; avoid bringing your chin to your chest or letting your head drop backward. Reach your right hand toward your right heel, then bring your torso back to center. Switch sides and repeat for two sets of 10 to 15 reps on each side. Note: If heel touches are too advanced, try the modified version.
Place your right hand behind your head for support. Lift your shoulders a few inches off the floor and reach your left hand toward your toes. Shoulders should remain lifted and your lower back should stay pressed against the mat. Keep your abs engaged and exhale as you reach your left hand toward your left foot, then return to center. Switch sides and repeat for two sets of 10 to 15 reps on each side.
Check out more fitness tips and workout videos.