Want To Target Your Core & Train Your Whole Body?
by Angie Miller
Try These Functional Bodyweight Moves
Long before bodyweight training became “in vogue,” those of us who have been around the block for a while trained this way because all the popular “toys” you now see in group exercise rooms weren’t around. We learned the art of bodyweight training and how to properly position our body against gravity because gravity was all we had.
Like good and bad fashion, what’s old is new again, and bodyweight training is no exception. This is one “fad,” however, that I’m happy to revisit, and if you read my blogs regularly you know I’m a huge fan of using our body as resistance for smarter, more intuitive body dynamics.
Here are three of my favorite bodyweight exercises and how to execute them properly:
- Reverse Plank
- The reverse plank is an amazing exercise that trains the posterior chain, all the muscles along the back side of the body.
- It not only targets the core, it isolates and strengthens the gluteal (butt) muscles.
- Think strong back muscles, toned tricep muscles, and lean leg muscles, hamstrings in particular.
- The reverse plank is a great exercise to help promote muscle balance, especially because the front plank often overshadows it. In truth, we need both for better body alignment and good posture.
How to Execute:
- Sit up tall on the floor with your legs extended in front of you.
- Place your palms on the floor, shoulder distance apart, fingertips facing the hips.
- Take a deep sniff in through your nose, and you exhale raise your hips up off the floor. Hold for 10 seconds, lower and repeat 5x
An option is to bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. This will put you in reverse tabletop, which will also train the posterior muscles of the body.
- Front Plank
- The front plank is a great exercise to train the anterior chain, all the muscles on the front side of the body.
- It tones the arms and strengthens the abdominal muscles, as well as the chest, shoulders, and quadriceps.
- The key to success (and quality form) is not hold the plank for extended periods of time. 10 second holds are great to start with, and don’t be afraid to modify by dropping your knees.
How to Execute:
- Lie prone on a mat. Take a deep sniff in, and as you exhale raise your chest, torso, and legs up off the floor.
- Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles.
Tip: Keep your neck long and extended and avoid dropping your head.
Tip: Brace your core, the muscles in the center of your body, to avoid dropping your hips and placing unnecessary pressure on your lower back.
Modifications: You can modify the front plank by bending your knees, or by placing your arms on an elevated surface such as a step platform.
- Knee Tucks
- If you want to take your front plank to the next level, try adding knee tucks.
- While planks are stabilization exercises, knee tucks involve movement, which requires that you have strong, stable core muscles to execute properly.
How to Execute:
- Place your hands on the floor shoulder distance apart, or slightly wider.
- Tuck your toes under, take a deep sniff in, and as you exhale slowly bring one knee to your chest. Return the leg and repeat slowly on the other side.
Tip: Avoid raising your hips too high and placing undue stress on your shoulders and wrists. Brace your center and use your breath.
Tip: You can raise the intensity by increasing the speed and moving more quickly throughout the movement.
Bodyweight training builds body confidence. It leads to stronger movement patterns and improves your posture. With no equipment needed you can perform bodyweight training in your bedroom, your office, or at the gym.
Best to you in Health and Happiness throughout the Holiday Season~
Angie Miller, M.S., is a fitness educator, university instructor, and Licensed Professional Counselor who blends her skills and expertise to empower individuals, mentally and physically, and provide them the tools they need to succeed. A veteran group exercise instructor and personal trainer, Angie is the star of acclaimed exercise DVD’s, including the Bedroom Body™ workout. Her passion for progressive education brought her to Northern Illinois University, where she teaches in the Dept. of Kinesiology & Physical Education. Outside of the university, she presents at fitness conventions worldwide and leads industry trainings as an AFAA Certification Specialist and Kettlebell Concepts Master Instructor. Angie writes for fitness journals and digital communities, and blogs for Collage Video. Connect with Angie at: http://www.angiemillerfitness.com