Kara Thomas, fitness and wellness director of Paradise Valley's Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain, has a great core routine to help you strengthen the center of your body.
"The core muscles run from shoulder to shoulder, hip to hip and the lower back musculature," she says. "A strong core helps to execute peripheral limbs (arms and legs) during activities, as well as helps to prevent back pain, improve posture and assist in better lung capacity for breathing."
Thomas' routine is comprised of 10 moves that are sure to work your entire core. All you need is a ball, water bottle, band and foam roller.
Standing Side Lunge with Rotation1 of 11
Using a ball or five-pound weight in your hands, make a round "basket" type position with arms. Shoulders are stabilized and the arms are in front of the torso. Stand in a side lunge position (right knee bent at or behind toes, back left leg extends and you are on the ball of the back foot). Inhale and rotate right, using the center abdominals when twisting the ball or weight. Exhale and contract abs. Inhale and return arms to the center. Exhale and rotate right. Repeat 10 times on each side.
Single Leg Plank on Forearms2 of 11
Start in a plank position on forearms, elbows under the shoulders and palms flat. Keeping the inner thighs together, pull the navel in to engage your abs to prevent arching the lower back. Inhale, and bend the right knee. Point your foot to the sky, exhale, pulling abs in tight. Inhale again, exhale and release foot to the floor. Inhale, bend left knee, and lift your left foot to the sky, exhale. Inhale, release your foot to the floor and exhale. Repeat sequence five times on each side.
Modified Single Post-Rehab Crisscross3 of 11
Lay on your back with your spine in neutral position and no arching or space in the lower back. Place hands behind your head, chin tucked slightly, elbows wide, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Inhale and twist the right elbow to the left knee, lifting the knee to a 90-degree angle. Exhale and engage abdominals. Inhale release, exhale and bring left elbow to the right knee. While lifting the knee to a 90-degree angle, exhale and engage abs. Remember to keep elbows wide and work from the abs and side. Refrain from pulling on the neck. Repeat five times on each side.
Toe Tap Knee Lifts4 of 11
Lie on a roller with your shoulders stabilized. Inhale and bend the right knee in. Exhale and hold it up right past the hip, about 90 degrees. Inhale and tap the right foot down, exhale and lift the left knee up. Switch from one knee to the other in a slow controlled rhythm. Repeat five times on each side.
Double Leg Stretch5 of 11
Place a roller under your heels horizontally. Lengthen your body out, arms overhead. Inhale, roll up and bend your knees inward, moving the foam roller into the toes. Exhale, draw the navel to the spine. Inhale, extend your body out. Exhale curl in. Repeat five times.
Plank on a Roller6 of 11
Lie in a plank position on your elbows and forearms, head extended long and shins on the roller. Inhale and exhale counting to 10. Pull the navel into the spine, so that your back doesn't arch. Inhale and exhale on each one-count.
Roll Up7 of 11
Lie with your tailbone at the end of roller. Align your spine on the top of the roller, head resting on the roller. Lengthen your arms over the head and inhale through the nose. Roll up reaching toward the knees. Exhale and pull your navel to your spine. Repeat five times.
Torso Twist With Water Bottles8 of 11
Hold a 16-ounce water bottle (or a med-ball or weight,) in each hand, hips stabilized, legs hip-width apart and knees slightly bent. Tuck the pelvic girdle in and engage abs. Inhale, twisting to the right, extending your left arm across then exhale. Inhale, twist to the left, extending your right arm across and exhale. Repeat 10 times on each side.
Stretch Band Oblique Twist9 of 11
Place your arms in a hammer curl position. Inhale and twist from center of your core to the right. Pull your right elbow back, exhale and feel the abs engage. Inhale and come back to center. Exhale and twist to the left, engaging the abs and pulling the left elbow back. Inhale and return to center. Repeat eight times.
Quad Press/Ab Contraction10 of 11
Tie the flex band in a bow and wrap around ankles. Leave about five to six inches of space between the ankles in resistance. To start, lie on the left side and wrap the band around the arch of the left foot. Your left leg is extended on the floor. On the right leg, the band should lay on the top of the right foot. Hips are stacked. Head is in the left palm. Inhale and pulse the right knee toward the chest slightly past 90 degrees, release 1 inch and pulse up again so that there's always a little tension in the band. Pulse for two sets of 10. Repeat on the left.