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Let’s Get Physical!

7 Core workouts to do during the Lockdown

Day 5 of the circuit breaker: you slowly feel the sluggishness dragging your bones down after hours of Netflix. The swimming pools, gyms, and now even the stadiums are closed. And now you’re itching for a workout after finishing the latest season of Itaewon Class. To get you started, Tropika Club shares 7 core exercises you can do during the Circuit Breaker.

But first, why you should get a strong core:

Having a strong core is like having a strong engine driving your daily activities. From getting up from bed to bending over to pick up things on the floor, your core is the centre of every movement you make. With a strong core, you’ll have better balance and posture, and you get to reduce back pain as you relieve the strain from your lower back.

How should core exercises work?

Like an engine, your core has several muscle groups that help you move:  

  • The rectus abdominis, what we often refer to as ‘abs’ 
  • The transverse abdominis, the internal core muscle that wraps around the side of your waist and spine 
  • And the internal and external obliques, the muscles on both sides of the abdomen  

Since every workout uses those muscles in different combinations, the most effective exercises work all of those muscles simultaneously. By working the core muscles all at once, you’re maintaining the balance of the core muscles. That not only improves performance but prevents injuries too. 

So, with a better understanding of your core muscles, let’s get to work! 

Read: How Exercises can Lift Your Spirits During COVID-19

1. Planks 

I’m sure this is where some of us want to wriggle out of (me). As you do planks, you’re working your core, your hamstrings, and your glutes. By training those muscles, you’re not only building your strength and endurance but improving your balance and supports better posture as well.  

The steps: 

  • Place your palms on the floor, or your forearms for a better workout. Your elbows should be directly below your shoulders. Keep your palms facing forwards, so your arms are parallel with each other.  
  • Extend your legs, and just place your toes on the floor. Now, your body should form a straight line from your shoulders all the way to your heels. 
  • Hold your core, and work your glutes and quads. You should tuck your tailbone, but only a little so your lower back remains straight.  
  • You should keep a straight line; check if your hips are dropping to the floor, or if your butt is heading to the ceiling. 
  • Keep your neck in a neutral position, so don’t lower your head. Keep your gaze on your hands. 
  • Hold for 1 minute at first. You can increase the duration as you get stronger. 
woman planking on gray asphalt road

2. Body Saw  

When you’re doing the body saw, you’re basically sawing back and forth from your plank position. As with the plank, you have to tuck your tailbone and keep your hips up and don’t let it drop to the floor. 

The steps: 

  • Place your toes on a towel, and get into a plank either on your palms or your forearms. Remember to keep your elbows directly below your shoulders, and your palms facing forwards to keep your arms parallel. 
  • Push your palms and forearms, so you can slide backwards. Try and move as far backwards as you can while keeping your core engaged. 
  • Then pull your body forward with your arms so you can return to the original position, and repeat the core exercise. 

3. Wheelbarrow 

Here’s a core workout that’s a little more difficult, since you’ll be utilising your shoulder stabiliser muscles as well. But when you’re doing the wheelbarrow, you have to be mindful; you might be in danger of straining your lower back. You can just use a tower or the towel if you don’t have gliding discs or the old school ab roller. 

The steps: 

  • Get on all fours, and get your towel under your hand. Keep your back flat by engaging your core and tucking your tailbone in (just like in the plank).
  • Slowly push your hands to the front. Bear in mind that you have to keep your arms straight.
  • While keeping your torso in the plank position, try to glide as far forward as you can.
  • Lastly, get back to the original position by pressing into the floor and pulling your arms back.

4. C-Curve 

This core exercise just uses the most intense part of the sit-up. You’re actually strengthening your abs as you hold them with constant tension. If you’re worried about straining your back, you could switch to the C-Curve instead, where your spine is lengthened because you’re keeping your tailbone tucked. 

The steps: 

  • Sit on your tailbone on the floor. Your knees should be bent and your feet should be planted on the floor. 
  • Round your spine and tuck your tailbone in. Lower your torso as if you’re lowering it after you finish a set of sit-ups. 
  • About halfway before you reach the floor, stop. Hold and engage your core and your quads. 
  • You can let your hands hold onto the area just above your knees. If you want more of a challenge, you can just hold your arms out in front of you. 

5 Ways to Supercharge Your Workout

5. Side Bend 

It’s one of the well-rounded core workouts out there. The side bend pushes you to work not only your obliques and core muscles but your arms and back too. If you do it right, you’ll probably feel the burn not long after your first rep. 

The steps: 

  • Start your rep with a side plank: place your right palm on the floor, right below your right shoulder. Stagger your left feet in front of your right feet. For a bigger burn, you can even stack your left foot on top of your right. You can just let your left arm hang on your left. 
  • Dip your hips towards the floor and lift it up. Keep your core and butt engaged. 
  • That’s one rep. Then repeat your reps on your left side too. 
two men's black and white crew-neck t-shirt

6. Plank Tap 

Here’s another way to ramp up the burn for your planks. The trick? You need to do this without rocking your hips from side to side.  

The steps: 

  • Begin with a plan: keep your palms flat on the floor, and your hands shoulder-width apart. Remember to keep your shoulders stacked directly over your hands. 
  • While holding your hips steady, tap your right hand to your left shoulder and vice-versa. 
  • You have to avoid rocking your hips from side to side. Keep your engagement with your core and glutes.

7. Leg Raise 

If you want to target your lower abs, try a few reps of this core exercise to feel the burn. It’s great when you’re sitting at home all day because it helps strengthen and add flexibility in your hip flexors. By increasing your hip mobility, you’ll be able to be even lighter on your feet once you come out of the Circuit Breaker. 

The steps: 

  • Lie straight on the floor, you can either keep your hands at your sides. Or tuck them underneath your hips if you need extra support. 
  • Raise your legs slowly until your feet are facing the ceiling. Keep your legs together and lengthened. 
  • Then slowly lower your legs back to the floor, but don’t let them touch the floor. Keep your legs just a few centimetres off the floor. And then you start over. 
  • When you do leg raises, you have to keep your lower back flat on the floor so you’re not straining your lower back. If you’re having trouble with that, you don’t need to lower your legs as far. 

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gonna get pumped!

Terence is Tropika Club Magazine's deputy editor who loves learning about animals and their behavior. He is also an anthropologist, so he is very interested in how different cultures interact with animals. He has worked in the publishing industry for over 10 years, and have been lucky enough to work with some amazing authors and editors.