Did you know that almost every move you make when it comes to dance comes from your core? That’s why having a strong core is so important because it helps you perform. Your core goes deeper than just your abs – it’s made up of five muscles that sit just under the abs and wrap around your mid-section like a corset.
We have 5 exercises that will help you strengthen and activate your core, and the great news is that you can do them all from the comfort of your living room!
This movement targets your abs and obliques specifically, and all you need to do is sit on the floor with legs out in front. Lean back 45 degrees, keep your abs engaged as you bring your arms overhead like a ballerina, and then twist your torso to the right, and then to the left, while squeezing your ab muscles. Each twist should be done to a count of 3. Repeat and do 3 sets of 6 to 8 reps on each side.
This easy and simple core strength exercise engages your deep abs, but you need to do it with what we call a ‘neutral spine’. That’s where when you lay down on your back with your knees bent and feet flat, there is a small gap between your lower back and the floor which is big enough to fit through a grape. Once in that position, interlock your hands behind your head, breath out, and lift up into an ab curl, bringing the bottom of your ribs close to your hips while keeping your spine neutral. Perform this one with 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps.
The powerhouse here should be your core, not your spine. Remember to breathe throughout, keep your body centred, and focus on your core.
Lie on your back, put your hands behind your head, and lift your head and upper back off the floor. Now lift both feet off the floor and straighten your left leg while the right legs stays where it is. Twist and touch your left elbow to the right knee, then straighten the right leg and bend the left leg and twist and touch the right elbow to the left knee. Keep alternating sides and do 3 sets of 15 reps.
The side plank is often overlooked for building strong abs and core in favour of the normal face-down plank. But let’s strengthen those side abs! Start on your side with your feet together and one forearm directly below your shoulder. Contract your core and raise your hips until your body is in a straight line from head to feet. Then hold the position without letting your hips drop for 10 seconds. Drop down gently and do it again, repeating 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps. Rotate and make sure you do the other side too.
Unlike regular crunches, reverse crunches help improve your posture. It’s important you keep your core tight throughout this exercise. Lie on the floor on your back, bend both knees as you would for a regular sit-up, and place both hands near the hips. Let the arms rest stretched out on the floor, keep your head on the floor, and your back should be touching the floor full-length (no gaps). Now raise both your legs upwards, keeping your ankles close to each other or crossed. While breathing out, clench your abs, bring both of your knees towards the chest, and your lower back will naturally lift. Return back to the start position slowly and with full control. Do 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps.
After doing these core activation exercises, your abdominal muscles will feel the strain, but that’s a good indication that you’ve worked them well and have turned on your core. These are the best moves for activating those muscles, so get cracking!