A Killer Core Stabilization Exercise

This core stabilization exercise works each side of your body independently—similar to the way you must recruit muscles and stabilize your pelvis and spine during running and cycling.

What it works: Lower fibers of rectus abdominis and transversus abdominis. In other words, the muscles that help stabilize the spine and pelvis.

More: 4 Core Strengthening Exercises for Triathletes

Why you should do it: Most people have an imbalance in strength and stability between their right and left sides. Increased stability will help to minimize a dominant side, increase a more stable foundation to generate greater force (i.e. speed and power), and help minimize injury by stabilizing the spine and pelvis, which affects the stability of the knees, ankles and feet.

If you are "unstable" the foam roller will move and you will immediately feel the instability. This means that your muscles are not working optimally.

More: 3 Foam Roller Exercises for Athletes

What you need: You can use a 4" or 6" diameter roller. 

How to do it: Lie on the foam roller vertically so that your head and tailbone are both on the roller. Stretch your arms out perpendicular to your body with palms facing up, and your feet a few inches apart. 

Lift your arms off the ground and draw your belly button inward.

  • Phase 1: Lift one foot a few inches off the ground and hold 5-10 seconds. Switch sides.
  • Phase 2: Lift one leg up so that your hip is flexed to 90 degrees. Switch sides.
  • Phase 3: Lift leg, flex hip to 90 degrees and then extend your knee. Switch sides.
  • Phase 4: Extend leg; then slowly lower and raise leg, keeping it straight. Switch sides.

Notes: You should not brace during this core stabilization exercise. "Bracing" is when the abdominal wall pushes out and the muscular tone becomes "hard". You should be solid in each phase and on both legs before you progress to the next phase.

Do 8 to 10 reps on each side and hold each rep for 10 seconds. Rest 1 minute and repeat for a total of 1 to 3 sets. 

More: 4 Stability Ball Exercises for a Strong Core

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