Put simply, you need a strong core. Whether you're an athlete or someone who works in an office, a strong core is critical for your performance and health. Beyond the aesthetic benefits, a strong core helps to create a rigid torso so your limbs can move freely. A strong core can also reduce injuries—especially to your lower back—while connecting your lower-body strength to your upper body to produce power for throwing or swinging a bat.
To develop core strength, I recommend focusing on anti-extension and anti-rotation exercises. Anti-extension exercises like Planks train your abs to keep your lower back from extending; and anti-rotation exercises strengthen your core's ability to resist rotation around the lumbar spine—two essential skills for athletes.
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If you need an extra boost of core strength, take the following 30-day challenge.
- Plank Hold - Standard Planks with your forearms and toes on the floor. Place your forearms in line with your shoulders and your feet shoulder-width apart.
- L Arm - Extend your left arm in front of your body.
- R Arm - Extend your right arm in front of your body.
- L Leg - Lift your left leg off the floor to hip level.
- R Leg - Lift your right leg off the floor to hip level
- L Leg/R Arm - Simultaneously lift your left leg and right arm.
- R Leg/L Arm -Simultaneously lift your right leg and left arm.
- Tighten your abs and glutes.
- Keep your hips parallel to the floor.
- Remember to breathe as you plank.
- Keep your eyes focused on the floor.
- Roll your tailbone toward your feet to help keep your core engaged.
- To increase the difficulty of the Planks, add ankle weights or use dumbbells.